Do you have back pain or sciatica? In a study reported in the journal Orthopedics, 650 people were examined for low back pain or sciatica. About 25% had reported an episode of sciatica in the past 6 months of the study. This shows how common sciatica really is. Sciatica is a term used to describe pain in the buttock or radiating down the leg that is caused by irritation to the sciatic nerve. There are many causes of back pain that can radiate pain down the leg, such as a herniated disc. However, true sciatica is specific to the sciatic nerve being irritated or compressed. This can occur in the back or in the buttock.
Symptoms of sciatica
Sciatica typically presents as aching pain to the buttock traveling to the back or side of the thigh. It can also present with numbness or tingling. In severe cases, extreme pain and weakness in the leg may result, causing a “buckling” sensation to the leg.
What can be done to help sciatica?
It is important to treat the cause of the sciatica and not the symptoms. Medication may help to numb the pain and decrease the inflammation, but it does not treat the cause of the pressure or irritation on the sciatic nerve. Here are important tools for you to relieve sciatica pain:
- Change your position frequently. Many episodes of sciatica stem from prolonged sitting, poor posture and weak core muscles. If you have a flare-up of sciatica, make sure to alternate between sitting, standing and lying down positions. Try alternating every 15 minutes if possible.
- Do not sit for long periods. Sitting causes increased pressure on the sciatica nerve as it travels below the gluteus muscles down to the leg. Avoid sitting on a soft couch for a long time or hard chairs. If you can, try walking 10-15 minutes outside or on a treadmill at a comfortable speed.
- Improve your hip mobility and strength. Our hips move through a very large range of motion. However, with frequent sitting throughout the day at a computer or watching TV, our ligaments and muscles around the hips tighten up, leading to loss of motion. While this loss of motion may not appear obvious, it does change the stress and strain on your spine. Improve your hip mobility and strength to relieve the pressure on the sciatica nerve. Talk to one of our physical therapists about which exercises are safe to improve your hip flexibility and strength.
- Increase your spine flexibility safely. Having a strong, flexible spine is critical to your overall health and performance. However, knowing the right exercises for your sciatica or back pain is very important, as further damage could result if exercises are done improperly. This is where the expertise of a physical therapist can significantly help you. With years of training in medicine and medical exercise programs, our physical therapists know the right path of gentle hands on treatments and exercises needed to help your problem.
- Get help from an expert. If you have been suffering with sciatica for more than 3 days, then you need to get help, before long-term damage occurs. Sciatica is a disease of the musculoskeletal system. The medical experts in treating the musculoskeletal system are physical therapists. Therefore, seeing a physical therapist early is critical to a swift recovery and preventing future episodes of back pain or sciatica. Even if you have suffered for years, we can help.
There is much that can be done to relieve your sciatica or back pain. Physical therapy is the first line of natural treatment to a successful recovery. Discover how our back and neck program can give you the quick relief you deserve without the need for pills. Contact Washington Physical Therapy today to speak with one of our specialists about your sciatica or back pain.