The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It originates in your low back, and runs to through your buttock, down your leg and into your foot. Sciatica is caused by irritation, pressure or pinching of your sciatic nerve, which causes pain in your leg. The irritation, pressure or pinching can be caused by a herniated disc, joint inflammation or arthritic bony growths in the low back. Sciatica can occur from general wear and tear over time, or from an acute injury (ie. From bending, lifting, coughing or sneezing).
Physiotherapy can effectively manage most cases of sciatica. A Physiotherapist will take a detailed history and complete a comprehensive assessment, to determine the root cause of your sciatica. If you have not already had any imaging done of your back, your physiotherapist may refer you to your doctor for diagnostic imaging, which is typically done with an x-ray, CT Scan and/or MRI. With the information gathered from the assessment, the physiotherapist will develop an individualized treatment plan to treat your sciatica. Based on your assessment and your symptoms, your individualized treatment plan may include:
- Manual therapy techniques such as soft tissue release, mobilization or manipulation
- An individualized exercise program including, muscle strengthening and stretching. As you heal, the physiotherapist will progress your exercises to make them more functional to help you reach your goals.
- Education on activity modification, posture, sleeping positions, and how to prevent future flare-ups.
- Modalities such as acupuncture, TENS, ultrasound, heat or ice
Pain from sciatica can be felt in the low back, buttock, leg, calf and/or foot. The type of pain felt from sciatica can be burning, dull, achy, sharp and/or shooting. Some people with sciatica can also experience numbness, tingling and/or muscle weakness in the affected leg. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention, because if the nerve is compressed for a long-time it can lead to permanent damage.
Contact Berry Physiotherapy for your next appointment.