The so-called “shooting pains” of sciatica can be unbearable to sufferers, and, for others it may be a distracting ache that may not be ever-present but always seems to come back. There are, of course, surgical and pharmaceutical solutions that may bring relief, if not a cure. The good news is that physical therapy has proven to be beneficial for people with sciatica, providing relief and bringing a scene of control over its strength-sapping aches and pains.
Relying on PT for sciatica pain relief beings with it improvements to your physical health and a sense of having some control over something that was previously controlling you. PT includes both active and passive therapeutic approaches that you can use both with your therapist and on your own.
What are some of the benefits of physical therapy in dealing with pain and discomfort elicited by the longest nerve in your body, running from your lower back, down your legs and to your feet?
Try any or all of the following:
- improved physical function
- reduction of pain and inflammation
- stymying recurrence of sciatica symptoms
- improvement of posture and musculature through exercise
The latter is an example of an active approach where you, the patient, actively participate in the therapy through exercise and a self-improvement regimen that you will be taught to deploy whether you’re with or away from your therapist. The passive approach includes treatments administered by your physical therapist, the most common of which are the utilization of heat, cold, deep tissue massage or ultrasound to speed healing.
When should you seek treatment from a physical therapist for sciatica pain?
- sudden and severe pain, which includes the previously mentioned debilitating “shooting pain”
- a numbness or weakness, usually on one side of the body
- inability to move your feet— often an extension of that weakness
- loss of control of bladder or bowel functions that may be the result of sciatic nerve compression
This may be described as comparable to an emergency room visit where you need a quick remedy. Although treatment via physical therapy may be immediately available, you’ll also need to work out a treatment plan to reduce the need for emergency relief. Generally, serious sciatica issues build up over time, starting as rather mild. However, injury can change all of that and pain may suddenly become excruciating. Sometimes this happens in the immediate aftermath of trauma or injury, but there may be a delay with symptoms showing up belatedly in the healing process.
If you have sciatica pain, you need not feel you have to grit your teeth and live with the ongoing aches and pains of sciatica. That’s why a treatment plan is important, no matter what it is that convinces you to see a physical therapist. That plan will be designed to strengthen the sciatic nerve through targeted stretches and exercises that are unique to your symptoms and lifestyle needs, not merely a cookie-cutter approach that may be available online or via a YouTube video.
There are at-home treatments that are as close as Googling assorted key words. Results of using this approach are mixed, especially in dealing with the pain and restricted movement. We recommend that you don’t wait too long if these symptoms extend beyond a few days. Primary physicians regular recommend physical therapy for sciatica pain, because it not only brings quick relief, but will get you on a steady path toward taking control of sciatica rather than letting it control you.
—Call us today at (201) 651-9100 for an appointment at Oakland Spine & Physical Therapy and take control of sciatica.