Physical Therapist Questions Sciatica

How can I treat my sciatica pain with physical therapy?

I have recently been diagnosed with sciatica and it is causing a lot of pain. How can I treat my condition with physical therapy? Are there any gentle exercises I can do at home? I really want to avoid taking medication.

8 Answers

A physical therapist can help with exercise prescription i order to determine if the origin of sciatica is caused from the spine such as arthritis, stenosis, etc or if it’s from mechanics or tight muscles. Depending on how for the feel the pain down the leg you can start with calf stretches, hamstring stretches, and lying on your back holding the back of you thigh so your leg is at about 90 degrees (as if sitting in chair) slowly straighten your knee until you feel a stretch- no pain and then pump your ankle as if you are using a gas pedal about 3sets of 20. These are some easy things to do at home. I would recommend an appointment with a therapist if these simple exercises don’t alleviate the pain.
Yes, definitely!!!
Without a proper examination, it would be difficult to tell you what treatment to perform. Do you feel better if you stand? Do you feel better if you sit? or any prolonged position provokes pain? Physical Therapy most of the time helps. I would get evaluated
PT will help with sciatic nerve pain.
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.”
The first thing you should do is see a Physical Therapist. They will be able to determine which exercises are appropriate. Simply prescribing random exercises without performing an evaluation is irresponsible and could result in additional injury. There are also many types of interventions used to decrease pain that could be applied in your case, making you feeling better after the first visit.
The best thing to do is obtain a physical therapy evaluation to determine the root cause of the problem. Then you and your therapist can determine a specific, tailored plan of care.
As a “mechanical therapist”, I often find that sciatica is positional and responds to movement in different ways. Therefore, it is helpful to be evaluated by a P.T. in order to know which exercise is right for you at this time. Usually sciatica will improve over a 2-3 month period. If not, then an evaluation by your primary care professional is a good idea.