Sciatica Treatment at elite physiotherapy and sports injury centre

What is Sciatica and its Treatment

Sciatica

Pain that radiates down the sciatic nerve’s path is referred to as sciatica. The sciatic nerve, which extends from the lower back through the hips, buttocks, and legs, is the longest nerve in the human body. A herniated disc in the lower back or a bone spur pressing on the nerve are two common causes of sciatica, which happens when this nerve is pinched or irritated.

It can be treated with painkillers, physiotherapy, hot or cold compresses, and in certain circumstances, surgery.

Causes of sciatica;

It can be caused by several factors, including:

  1. Herniated disk: In the lower back, a herniated or slipped disc is the most frequent cause of sciatica. The sciatic nerve and other surrounding nerve roots may be compressed when the soft inner material of the disc leaks out.
  2. Spinal stenosis: The spinal canal narrows with this disorder, placing pressure on the spinal cord and the nerve roots that emerge from it. Due to spinal changes brought on by aging, older persons are more likely to experience it.
  3. Degenerative disk disease: As people get older, the discs in their spine may become less flexible, which can cause degeneration and increase the risk of the nerve roots being herniated or compressed.
  4. Spondylolisthesis: One vertebra in the spine slips forward over the vertebra below it in this disease, putting pressure on the spinal nerves.
  5. Piriformis syndrome: This happens when the sciatic nerve is compressed by the piriformis muscle in the buttocks, resulting in discomfort and other symptoms.
  6. Trauma: Its symptoms can be brought on by damage to the sciatic nerve from injuries to the spine or pelvis.
  7. Tumors: Sometimes, tumors can compress the sciatic nerve, resulting in sciatica symptoms.

Symptoms:

Radiating pain along the sciatic nerve’s course is the most typical sign of sciatica. The intensity of this pain might range from a dull ache to a strong, shooting pain that restricts movement. Other typical signs include:

  1. Numbness or tingling: Numbness, tingling, or a pins-and-needles sensation in the leg or foot may be experienced by those who have sciatica.
  2. Weakness: Sciatica can, in extreme situations, weaken the affected leg, making it challenging to walk or stand.
  3. Burning or prickling sensation: In the affected leg, some sciatica sufferers may feel a burning or prickling sensation.
  4. Pain that worsens with movement: By standing up, sitting down, or walking, sciatica pain may become worse.
  5. Pain that is worse at night: The pain from sciatica could be severe at night, especially when lying down.
  6. Bowel or bladder dysfunction: Rarely, severe sciatica can lead to bowel or bladder dysfunction, including fecal or urine incontinence.

Physiotherapy Treatment:

Depending on the underlying cause of the problem, the intensity of the symptoms, and individual factors, the physiotherapy treatment for sciatica may differ. Nonetheless, a few typical treatments are as follows:

  1. Exercise therapy: Exercise therapy aims to increase flexibility and strengthen the muscles that support the spine. A physiotherapist can create an exercise program that is specific to a person’s needs and capabilities. This program might include stretches to increase flexibility as well as exercises to strengthen the back, hip, and abdominal muscles.
      • Some examples of exercises that may be beneficial for individuals with sciatica include:
        1. Hamstring stretches: Hamstring tightness might aggravate sciatica symptoms. Exercises that include stretching the muscles can assist to increase flexibility and lessen muscle tension. Stretching the hamstrings while lying down or while standing are two examples.
        2. Piriformis stretches: In the buttock, the piriformis muscle can aggravate sciatica symptoms if it tightens or gets irritated. Exercises that stretch the muscles can aid in easing tension in the muscles. Stretching the piriformis while seated or lying down are two examples.
        3. McKenzie exercises: These exercises, which include repeating spinal movements, can ease strain on the sciatic nerve. The prone press-up and the standing extension are two examples.
        4. Pelvic tilts: Pelvic tilts can aid in posture improvement and lower back muscle strengthening. You can do a pelvic tilt by lying on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the ground.
        5. Walking: Walking is a low-impact exercise that can aid with circulation, inflammation reduction, and general physical function.
  2. Manual therapy: To increase joint mobility and reduce pain, this may involve massage, joint mobilization, or manipulation.
  3. Heat or cold therapy: In order to reduce pain and inflammation, the affected area may benefit from applying heat or ice. A physiotherapist could advise using a combination of hot and cold packs.
  4. TENS therapy: TENS delivers electrical impulses to the injured area to reduce pain.
  5. Posture correction: By placing additional strain on the lower back, poor posture can contribute to sciatica. A physiotherapist can offer tips and exercises to help with posture and ease the strain on the lower back.

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