Treatment for sciatica varies from medication and hot and cold compresses to exercise and other complementary and alternative medicines. In case the symptoms are not so severe but go beyond a few weeks, the physician might recommend physiotherapy for sciatica also. Usually, medication is used for getting relief from pain and inflammation in muscles and tissues, which helps in healing but does not cure the disease completely. Physiotherapy helps in healing and prevention of recurrence of the disease. With the advancement in technology, Healthbound physiotherapy has become much more sophisticated in recent years.
Sciatica refers to pain in lower back, buttocks, legs and feet. It can also be referred as sciatic nerve or lumbar disc disorder. Pain can be bilateral (one-sided), radicular (two-sided), and mixed. Some people have to live with this problem throughout their lives and some get alleviation within few months only. In rare cases, sciatica can lead to total paralysis of the leg or arm.
Treating Sciatica with Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy for sciatica starts as treating the pain, which is caused by damaged discs or lumbar nerve roots. The affected area is thoroughly massaged by a qualified physiotherapist. Other treatment options like exercise and massage also help in healing the spinal muscles and tissues.
Discs or lumbar nerves are the main cause of sciatica pain in many people. This usually happens when there is degeneration or swelling of spinal discs, which prevents the smooth sliding of the disc between the vertebrae. Swelling can occur due to many reasons like weight gain, aging, or trauma to the spine. Lumbar bulging can also happen due to genetic reasons or due to pregnancy. Severe leg pain resulting from sciatica can be treated successfully if diagnosed early in time.
Physiotherapy for sciatica starts with determining the cause of the sciatica symptoms. There are several causes of sciatica pain but they are spinal disc degeneration, pinched sciatic nerve, degenerative disc disease, stenosis, pregnancy, or ankylosing spondylolisthesis. Once a physiotherapy program is started, physiotherapists use exercises to stretch the back muscles, specifically the sciatic nerves. Exercises like gentle stretching of hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, and spinal erector spinae help in treating sciatica pain.
Another physiotherapy treatment plan includes muscle strengthening and stretching. Stretching helps in better mobility and relieves stress. Exercises like gentle stretching of buttocks, pelvic floor exercises, isometric, pelvic exercise, deep pelvic muscle exercises, and stretching of the hamstring are helpful for controlling pain. The physiotherapist will identify the specific exercises to treat the pain. Physical therapy is used to rehabilitate the patients for removing any injury or trauma which might have resulted in causing the symptoms of sciatica pain.
Physiotherapy also uses heat and cold therapy to treat the pain. Heat is effective for treating inflammation and pain caused by irritation to the sciatic nerves. Cold therapy is effective in reducing inflammation and pain and in maintaining the damaged tissues and muscles. The physiotherapist controls the amount of pressure and applies slow compression to reduce swelling. When physiotherapy for sciatica relief is conducted using cold and heat, patients are advised not to move their right leg and to keep their right leg elevated when sleeping.
Physiotherapy for sciatica begins with identifying the main cause of the pain and then treating the pain effectively. Sciatica pain can be treated effectively with the help of physiotherapy. However, before starting off with physiotherapy, it is important to know about the physiotherapy treatment for sciatica and the exercises that should be done after physiotherapy for sciatica relief. Sciatica pain can be treated using the physiotherapy techniques as listed above. Sciatica pain is greatly treatable using physiotherapy, but sometimes even doctors cannot cure the condition completely.