What to expect from physical therapy for sciatica

Sciatic Nerve Pain

The sciatic nerve is a long nerve in your lower back that runs through each of your legs. It is the single longest nerve strand in your body. Some conditions and injuries can irritate this nerve, causing inflammation to develop in it known as sciatica.

Sciatica causes pain in the lower back that spreads into one or both of your legs along the nerve’s path. This pain can affect your ability to participate in physical activities and complete simple daily tasks. Fortunately, physical therapists can help you treat and prevent sciatica. 

Therapeutic exercises and stretches

Weak and stiff muscles are one of the primary causes of sciatica. Your spine relies on the muscles for movement and support. When they are weak and stiff, they cannot provide enough support for the spine. This causes pressure to build up on the spine to support your upper body weight, which can irritate the sciatic nerve within.

Physical therapists can guide you through exercises and stretches designed to improve your back and core muscle strength and flexibility. These exercises can help reduce existing sciatic pain and prevent it from developing again. 

Manual therapy

Manual therapy (also known as hands-on therapy) is a series of techniques that involve mobilizing and positioning the soft tissue and joints in ways that reduce pain and improve your range of motion. 

These techniques are often used to help break down scar tissue and trigger points that contribute to pain and stiffness in your muscles. 

Posture correction

Poor posture, especially when sitting, increases strain on your lower back. This leads to stiff muscles and an increase of pressure on the spine.

Physical therapists can examine your posture when sitting and show you how to make corrections that can reduce pressure off your lower back. 

Lifestyle advice

Certain lifestyle choices and habits can contribute to sciatica. For example, a sedentary lifestyle leads to weak and stiff muscles that fail to provide enough support for the lower back. 

Smoking also contributes to sciatica and other forms of lower back pain. Smoking restricts your blood flow, which prevents your back from getting all of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to remain healthy. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about finding help to quit smoking to reduce your risk of sciatica.

Visit Panther Physical Therapy for sciatica treatment

Do you have constant pain in your lower back and legs that gets in the way of your life? Our team at Panther Physical Therapy is here to help you reach your recovery goals. Contact our team today for more information about sciatica or to schedule an initial appointment.