Sciatica is a term that describes the symptoms of low back and leg pain, sometimes accompanied by tingling, numbness, and weakness. The symptoms of sciatica originate in the lumbar spine and travel through the buttocks and along the large sciatic nerve at the back of each leg.
Common Causes of Sciatica
In truth, sciatica is not itself a medical condition, but rather a set of symptoms related to a plethora of other possible underlying causes. Some things that may contribute to sciatica include:
- Lumbar herniated disc; When the soft inner material of a disc in your lower spine leaks out through its fibrous outer core, it can irritate or pinch the sciatic nerve root. A herniated disc is also sometimes called a slipped disc, ruptured disc, bulging disc, or protruding disc.
- Degenerative disc disease: Disc degeneration is a natural process that occurs with aging. Inflammatory proteins from within a weakened disc can become exposed and irritate local nerve roots.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis: This occurs when one vertebral body slips forward on another due to a small stress fracture. The sciatic nerve can become pinched and irritated, causing pain.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis: Marked by a narrowing of the spinal canal, lumbar spinal stenosis is related to spinal aging and is common in older adults. It sometimes occurs in conjunction with spinal arthritis, which can also contribute to sciatica.
- Piriformis syndrome: Also known as deep gluteal syndrome, the sciatic nerve can become irritated where it runs beneath the piriformis muscle in the buttock. This syndrome is often associated with physical activity or sports.
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: Located at the bottom of the spine, this condition can also irritate the L5 nerve, causing sciatica-type pain.
While these conditions have been identified as specific structural causes of sciatic nerve pain, sciatica can also arise from poor postural habits, weak core muscles, deficient movement mechanics and excessive sitting. Being overweight or obese and out of shape can predispose you to sciatica and low back pain.
Physical Therapy for Sciatica Treatment
Because sciatic nerve pain can be debilitating, many assume that surgery is the best solution. However, there is mounting evidence that surgery often does not resolve the symptoms of sciatica, because it does not get at the root cause. In other words, surgery is often undertaken to treat sciatica symptoms without offering a long-term cure.
The muscles, joints and nerves in your trunk and pelvis are closely interrelated, and sciatic nerve pain can originate in an area of your body far from the site of pain. Physical therapy can correct postural and movement dysfunction, and retrain your muscles to work in ways that protect your spine and provide integrity for optimal function.
Some physical therapy treatment methods for sciatica may include:
- Resistance exercise and stretching to improve muscle strength and balance
- Postural training to promote better spinal alignment
- Walking and running gait retraining
- Lifestyle coaching to identify and correct harmful habits and behaviors
- Acupuncture to treat nerve dysfunction
- Massage therapy to relax muscles and relieve pain
- Manual manipulation to reduce pressure and realign vertebrae
Physical therapy seeks to identify and correct the underlying causes of sciatica, not just treat the symptoms.
Sciatica Treatment in Brooklyn
At Back to Health, we offer the best physical therapy in Brooklyn. Our experienced professional team is well acquainted with sciatica and its symptoms, and we take an individualized multimodal approach to treatment.
If you are looking for physical therapy in Brooklyn, Back to Health has several convenient locations to meet your needs. You do not have to suffer with sciatica and its painful symptoms. Contact us today to make an appointment for a consultation. You will quickly learn why Back to Health offers the very best physical therapy in Brooklyn.