Sciatica is a common type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, a large nerve extending from your lower back down the back of each leg.
Causes and Risk Factors
⦁ Irritation of the root(s) of your lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine.
⦁ Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in your lower back)
⦁ Degenerative disk disease (breakdown of disks, which act as cushions between the vertebrae)
⦁ Spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another one)
⦁ Aging (which can cause changes in the spine, like ⦁ bone spurs or herniated disks)
⦁ Being ⦁ overweight
⦁ Not ⦁ exercising regularly
⦁ Wearing high heels
⦁ Sleeping on a mattress that is too hard or too soft
Smoking can cause the outer layer of your spinal disks to break down.
⦁ Your job, especially if it involves driving for long periods of time, twisting your back, or carrying heavy things
Goals of physical therapy
⦁ Restore pain-free functional movement patterns
⦁ Relieve lower back, buttock, thigh, and leg pain
⦁ Reduce muscle spasm
⦁ Restore function of the lumbar spine and the sacroiliac joint
⦁ Improve mobility of the lower body
⦁ Foster a better healing environment in the lower back
⦁ Promote neurologic adaptations to reduce the perception of pain
⦁ Prevent future pain flare-ups and reduce fear associated with movement
Physiotherapy Treatment of Sciatica
As sciatica is due to pressure on the sciatic nerve, it stands to reason that treatment involves removing this pressure. Your Physiotherapy treatment aims to achieve this by reducing nerve pressure caused by poorly moving spinal joints as well as easing muscular tension in the lower spine, buttock and leg.
This is achieved by using a combination of the following techniques:
⦁ Use of ⦁ hot or ⦁ cold packs for comfort and to decreased inflammation
⦁ Spinal mobilizations
⦁ Practicing good, erect ⦁ posture
⦁ Massage therapy and trigger point therapy
⦁ Stretching tight muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments
⦁ Ultrasound and other electrical stimulation devices
⦁ Advice in relation to how to minimize pressure and irritation of the sciatic nerve
⦁ Use of proper lifting techniques
⦁ Regular light exercises such as walking, swimming, or ⦁ aqua therapy