Sciatica is brutal. It is one of the most common conditions that we see as Physiotherapists and it has the potential to cause pain that will stop you in your tracks. The good news is that Sciatica is not dangerous and does not generally lead to any serious or life-threatening pathology. But that does not mean that it can not do a fair bit of damage to your life, making it impossible to move around or do your job effectively.
Physiotherapy is the first line of defence for treating and ultimately eliminating sciatica. If you are suffering from this condition, find yourself an experienced orthopaedic physiotherapist as soon as possible. Below are some of the ways that they will help to eliminate your leg pain.
What is sciatica exactly?
Sciatica is not really a specific diagnosis. Rather it is a commonly used term for a number of conditions that can cause nerve pain in your leg, or legs arising from your low back. This nerve pain can come from a herniated or bulging lumbar disc, a section of your back that moves too much (spondylolisthesis) or degenerative changes that have occurred in your spine (spondylolysis or arthritis). One or more of these conditions can create a scenario where a nerve root can become compressed where it exits your lumbar spine. This can create pain, numbness, tingling. The lumbar spine injury may also create a local inflammatory response further sensitizing the nerve root and making things even more painful.
Ways Physiotherapy can Eliminate Sciatica
Eliminate Spinal Stiffness
For many people their sciatica comes with injuries to the lumbar discs. In this case the range of motion of their spine will be limited. Often these patients find it difficult to stand up straight after sitting for prolonged periods of time. An experienced Physiotherapist can use hands-on manual therapy and a specific set of exercises to help restore motion in your spine. This is a necessary step for your leg pain to resolve.
Improve Core Strength
Some patients develop low back injuries that result in sciatica because they do not have the muscular strength to properly support their spine when lifting or doing other active things. These patients often feel low back pressure and/or leg pain after standing or walking for prolonged periods. Your Physiotherapist can target the muscles that support the spine to develop strength and ensure that it is not undergoing excessive stress while you bend, lift or even walk around.
Learn to Lift Properly
Poor lifting mechanics are one of the primary ways that people injure their back, triggering an episode of sciatica. When you have sciatica it quickly becomes obvious just how often you need to bend and lift objects. Your Physiotherapist can teach you to lift properly. This will not only protect your back from further injury, it will also help to strengthen those important hip and core muscles we were talking about earlier.
Get Your Nerves Moving
Often the injuries that lead to sciatica cause the nerves that travel down your leg to become immobile. When nerves have reduced mobility they undergo excess traction (pulling) causing them to become more sensitive and making you experience more pain. A Physiotherapist can help by providing manual therapy techniques and exercises that restore normal mobility in the nerves.
Reduce Nerve Pain
Often the sciatica pain is just too much for people to begin doing some of the exercises that they need to do to improve. IN this case your Physiotherapist may use some pain relieving modalities like acupuncture or manual therapy techniques like manual traction to reduce the pain so that you can get moving in a way that will benefit your condition.
Change Your Habits
There is a lot less sciatica in the underdeveloped world. The reason for this is that people in these countries are more likely to be spending their time doing physical tasks rather than sitting and staring at a computer screen all day. All that time in front of the computer takes its toll on the discs of your low back, but it also leads to muscular weakness. Your Physiotherapist will show you have to set up a workstation to promote good posture reducing pressure in the discs of your low back. They will also ask you to use a correct back support and show you exactly where to put it when you are sitting. Lastly they may recommend that you set an alarm to get up and walk or stretch regularly or look into getting a sit/stand workstation. Your Physio may also teach you a short stretching routine that you can use before you do any heavy lifting that will help to reduce the likelihood that you will aggravate your sciatica or cause any new injuries to your low back.
There is no question that sciatica can have a profound impact on your quality of life. If you want to eliminate this condition, get yourself an appointment with a Physiotherapist and get it treated. Use this article to ensure you are doing everything possible and you will be on the mend in no time.