Physical Therapist Questions Sciatica

Can physical therapy help me with my sciatica pain?

I am on treatment for my sciatica pain. Can I opt for physical therapy along with the medication for a more effective treatment? Will I ever be able to ditch the medication altogether?

2 Answers

The goals of any physical therapy treatment plan are to reduce pain, increase function and provide a maintenance program for back pain and sciatica. Typically, the treatment plan is comprised of two components-active exercises and passive modalities. The exercise regimen may consist of strengthening, stretching and aerobic conditioning. Core muscle training is also a part of a good lower back pain treatment plan. It’s important that these exercises are done properly and consistently.

Passive modalities used in a physical therapy treatment plan for back pain and sciatica may include heat and cold therapy, ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) units. Heat and cold therapy are used to reduce muscle spasm, inflammation, and pain. With ultrasound, deep heating is applied to the soft tissues through sound waves. It is known not only to help relieve pain but to enhance healing. A TENS unit uses electrical stimulation to override pain signals sent to the brain. If it is successful, a TENS unit can be used long term.

All around, research has proven that physical therapy is effective for those who suffer from back pain or sciatica pain. It’s also safe. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly recommends it. “Physical therapists partner with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals to manage pain, often reducing or eliminating the need for opioids. Research has shown that a simple education session with a physical therapist can lead to improved function, improved range of motion and decreased pain.”
Absolutely. There is always a good chance that the proper PT will allow you to ditch pain meds.