Can physical therapy help sciatica?

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Sciatica, also known more formally as sciatica neuritis, is a condition that is characterized by pain or significant discomfort along the length of the sciatic nerve. An injury to the nerve usually brings on this pain and discomfort or when significant pressure is placed on the nerve. A bone spur or herniated disc typically causes pressure on the nerve. The pain usually starts in the lower back and radiates down one of the hips, buttocks and legs. 

Experts suggest that about 40% of people in the U.S. will experience sciatic nerve pain at some point during their lifetimes. It’s more likely to occur in older people and those who experience changes in their spinal health over time. It’s also more likely to affect people who are overweight and have certain health conditions, like diabetes. Those who sit for extensive periods of time or have physically strenuous occupations also have a higher risk.

When left untreated, sciatica can be persistent and cause serious discomfort. One common question many people ask about sciatica treatment is, can physical therapy help sciatica? Read through the sections below to determine if you’re experiencing sciatic nerve pain and if physical therapy can help alleviate your sciatica symptoms along with many other benefits.

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

There is no shortage of symptoms affecting those struggling with sciatica. Common sciatica symptoms include:

  • Tingling — The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back and through both legs. Someone with sciatic nerve pain is likely to feel tingling or some similar sensation in one of their legs.

  • Aching — It’s likely that someone with sciatica will experience aching or throbbing down the length of their leg.

  • Burning — People who have sciatica might experience burning sensations either at their lower back, hip or down the length of their leg.

  • Pain that worsens after sitting or standing — It’s common for someone with sciatica to experience pain that worsens after sitting or standing for extended periods of time. The symptoms can be intense for people who work jobs requiring them to sit or stand most of the day.

  • Pain that worsens at night — Someone with sciatica might also experience pain that gets worse during the night. Lying in bed for several hours can exacerbate the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain.

  • Difficulty with movement — It’s also common for someone with sciatica to have difficulty moving or performing certain physical activities due to their pain or discomfort in their back, hip or leg.

Can physical therapy help sciatica?

Yes, physical therapy can help ease the symptoms of sciatica. Physical therapists can help patients identify the cause of their nerve pain and develop a special treatment plan to address their symptoms. Here’s how physical therapy can specifically help sciatica:

  • Provide pain relief — One of the primary benefits of physical therapy is that it can relieve the more uncomfortable or painful sciatica symptoms. Sciatic nerve pain can make everyday activities uncomfortable, but PT treatments can be used to reduce inflammation and pressure from the sciatic nerve.

  • Address the root cause — Another primary benefit of getting physical therapy for sciatic nerve pain is that it can determine the root cause of the injury that may be affecting the nerve or what might be placing pressure on the nerve. Your physical therapist will ask you a series of questions and perform manual tests to determine the most likely cause and then create the best plan for treatment.

  • Prevent future occurrences — Physical therapy can also help prevent future occurrences of sciatica. Physical therapists are experts in identifying the root cause and treating the cause so that, over time, the symptoms subside. During the treatment process, they’ll teach you what steps you can take to proactively prevent future occurrences of sciatic nerve pain.

Excel Rehab & Sports can provide you with sciatic nerve pain treatment

Are you looking for a physical therapy clinic to help you treat your sciatica symptoms? Our team of physical therapists at Excel Rehab & Sports can help you identify the root cause of your sciatica while also providing relief and preventing future flare-ups.

We’d be happy to discuss your top health concerns and what we can do to help. Each of our therapists is qualified to address conditions like sciatica and treat them efficiently. At Excel Rehab & Sports, we know how much of a difference physical therapy can make in the lives of our patients. It’s why we strive to do our best every day. 

We have seven locations in Tennessee and South Carolina. Want to find one nearest to you? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us as soon as possible. The treatment you need can begin as soon as your first session with us.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.