Sciatica is a term that refers to symptoms such as pain, numbness, and/or weakness that can start from the back of your leg and radiate along the lower part of your leg. The medical term for this is lumbar radiculopathy. The sciatic nerve holds the nerve roots of your lower back which innervate all the muscles from the low back all the way down to the foot. Pain varies from sharp pain to achy. Numbness and tingling and/or weakness can be experienced on that affected leg. Out of the Americans who suffer from lower back pain, 5-10% are also affected by sciatica which amounts to over half the adult US population. Millions of Americans are affected and struggle with disc-related sciatica pain.
Signs and Symptoms:
- The pain is centered or only exists in one leg/buttock, rather than both.
- The pain is deep within the leg, rather than on the surface.
- Nerve tingling, pins and needles, and prickling pains rather than a deep ache.
- Your affected leg is particularly weakened and gives way when standing on it at times.
- You feel jolting pain at times.
- Your leg feels numb and unresponsive sometimes.
How sciatica occurs:
- Spine degeneration
- Facet joint injuries
- Joint inflammation
- Piriformis syndrome
- Sacroiliac dysfunction
- Spinal stenosis
Sciatica pain treatment:
Sciatica is just a symptom from an underlying medical condition and therefore, it is important to direct the treatment to the specific cause rather than just masking the pain with different treatments. Consulting a physical therapist will give you the best results for treating it. I know you might be thinking, “why a physical therapist and not a medical doctor?” A physical therapist performs a medical history interview and physical exam to cater an intervention specifically to you and how your case presents. They perform several provocation tests, muscle strength tests, range of motion examinations, etc. to hone on the true cause of your sciatica. Once they get down to the root of the problem, they can effectively treat you and alleviate the symptoms.
- To avoid recurring pains, seek a licensed physical therapist.
- Exercise regularly to keep your back muscles strong for stability and support.
- Sit upright with good posture
- Use good body mechanics
Living with sciatica can limit you from your day to day life and fun activities. Going to physical therapy can help you find that relief by targeting the source of what is causing your symptoms contact your physical therapist today and get back to your active lifestyle!