When the muscles in the hip place pressure on the sciatic nerve it can cause excruciating pain called sciatica. The sciatic nerve is a major nerve the travels the full length of the body, following the lumbar region of the back and down the leg all the way to the foot. Typically this nerve does not trouble people, but it is vulnerable to pressure due to its path though the hip. In many cases physical therapy, when prescribed by an orthopedic physician, will result in effective and long lasting pain relief.
Type of Physical Therapy For Sciatica
There are a variety of physical therapy options available to pain management doctors in the treatment of sciatica. The types of treatments usually fall into two categories; active therapy and more passive treatments. Active treatments may include aerobics exercise, strength training, and stretching. The more passive treatment options can consist of massage, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), and Ultrasound. All of these have the potential for temporary, and in some cases more permanent, sciatica relief.
The three main types of physical therapy that involve movement and activity all have different benefits.
- Aerobics– As mentioned in our arthritis pain relief through exercise article, aerobic exercise, including long walks or swimming laps, releases natural pain relieving endorphins into your body.
- Strength Training – To decrease the chances of injury and creating proper back alignment sciatica strength training usually focus on the lumbar region in the back, the gluteal muscles, and the thigh muscles.
- Stretching – Relaxing the muscles that have become resistant to movement and are causing the impingement of the sciatic nerve is a very common method of sciatica pain relief.
Take It Easy
In some cases treatments that are less active may be suggested by the physical therapist.
- Ultrasound– Sound waves produced by an ultrasound machine can actually decrease the time it takes to heal and relieve muscles that are stiff and inflexible by improving the circulation and gently heating the muscles.
- Massage – A massage that is deep and firm will not only help soothe those cramped muscles but can actually make the nerves and ligaments both relax.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation – In some cases using a very small and controlled amount of electricity can decrease the intensity and number of muscle spasms and can help release pain blocking endorphins, much like aerobics.
Find The Right Physical Therapist
IBJI’s orthopedic physician’s teams include some of the highest trained and most experienced physical therapists in Chicago. The entire team is very familiar in the management of pain while treating many conditions, including sciatica. Their primary concern is relieving your sciatic pain and getting you “back” on your feet. Make an appointment today with one of our physical therapist or orthopedic spine doctors and get the pain relief you are looking for.
This information is not intended to provide advise or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s).