Manual Therapy

Understanding Sciatica: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Treatment with Physiotherapy and Exercise

Sciatica is a condition that affects the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the human body. It runs from the lower back down to the legs and feet, and when it becomes inflamed or irritated, it can cause a range of painful symptoms.

In this article we’ll explore the signs and symptoms of sciatica, its causes, and how physiotherapy and exercise can help fix it.

Signs and Symptoms of Sciatica:

The symptoms of sciatica can vary from person to person, but they typically include:

  • Pain in the lower back, buttocks, hips, or legs (usually on one side of the body)
  • Numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation in the affected area
  • Weakness in the legs or feet
  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Shooting pain that worsens with movement, coughing, or sneezing

Causes of Sciatica:

There are several underlying conditions that can lead to sciatica, including:

  • Herniated or bulging discs in the spine
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
  • Spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebrae)
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Piriformis syndrome (compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle)

How Physiotherapy Can Help Fix Sciatica:

Physiotherapy is an effective treatment option for sciatica. It can help to reduce pain, improve mobility, and prevent future injuries. Here are some of the techniques that physiotherapists may use to treat sciatica:

Manual Therapy: This includes techniques such as soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, and trigger point therapy. These techniques can help to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and promote healing.

Exercise Therapy: A physiotherapist can design a customized exercise program that targets the specific needs of each patient. This may include stretching exercises to improve flexibility, strengthening exercises to build up the muscles that support the spine, and low-impact aerobic exercises to improve overall fitness.

Posture and Ergonomic Assessments: Poor posture and incorrect ergonomics can contribute to sciatica. A physiotherapist can assess a patient’s posture and ergonomics and provide guidance on how to make adjustments to reduce the risk of further injury.

How Exercise Can Help Fix Sciatica:

Exercise is an important component of sciatica treatment. It can help to reduce pain, improve mobility, and prevent future injuries. Here are some of the exercises that may be recommended for people with sciatica:

Hamstring Stretches: Tight hamstrings can contribute to sciatica. Stretching the hamstrings can help to reduce tension in the lower back and alleviate pain.

Core Strengthening: A strong core can provide support for the spine and reduce the risk of further injury. Exercises such as planks and bridges can help to strengthen the core muscles.

Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise: Walking, swimming, and cycling are all low-impact aerobic exercises that can improve overall fitness and reduce pressure on the lower back.

Sciatica can be a painful and debilitating condition, but there are effective treatment options available. Physiotherapy and exercise can help to reduce pain, improve mobility, and prevent future injuries.

A physiotherapist can help to create a customized treatment plan that’s tailored to your specific needs and can provide guidance on how to perform exercises safely and effectively. Book your appointment and start working with a health care practitioner to help correct your sciatica!