Physical therapy for sciatica
Why on-demand physical therapy?
Meet with the best sciatica physical therapists
Luna’s physical therapists are experts in the treatment of sciatica. Our licensed PTs can help patients mitigate their sciatica symptoms with treatment programs that include guided stretches, manual treatment, and pain relief techniques.
With Luna, patients can get sciatica treatment right from the comfort of their homes. It’s physical therapy, delivered.
What is sciatica?
The sciatic nerve extends from the lower back and runs down each leg. Patients who suffer from sciatica experience varying levels of pain, inflammation, and numbness in the sciatic nerve, typically in just one side of the body. For some, the pain is severe and debilitating; for others, it’s infrequent and merely irritating.
The most common cause of sciatica is compression of the sciatic nerve due to a herniated disk, bone spur, or narrowing of the spine. Less-severe cases of sciatica can often resolve with non-operative treatments in only a few weeks, although patients with severe sciatica may be strong candidates for surgery.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Sciatica usually only affects one side of the body, but pain may extend from the lower back all the way to the foot or toes in some cases. Some patients experience chronic, intense pain, while for others, the pain is intermittent and less severe. Without treatment, the symptoms of sciatica tend to worsen over time.
In extreme cases, patients may experience noticeable lower extremity weakness, numbness in the legs, lower back, or upper thighs, or loss of bladder or bowel control. The pain may make it difficult to stand, or it may be worse when sitting or lying down.
The most common symptoms of sciatica include:
- Lower back pain
- Hip pain
- Burning or tingling in the leg
- Weakness or numbness in the leg or foot
What causes sciatica?
While sciatica is a medical condition in and of itself, it’s also a symptom of several other medical conditions. Problems with the spine and lower back can result in pinching or pressing of the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica. An estimated 90 percent of sciatica cases are due to a herniated disk, which occurs when one of the spine’s cartilage disks slips out of place.
While a number of conditions can cause sciatica, the primary risk factors include age, profession, and a sedentary lifestyle. Patients in their 30s or 40s, those who work jobs that require heavy lifting, or those that are physically inactive are at the highest risk of developing a spine or back condition that can lead to sciatica.
The most common causes of sciatica include:
- Herniated disc
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Tumors in the spine
Physical therapy for sciatica
Physical therapy is a go-to treatment for sciatica. Most physical therapy treatment plans for sciatica will include a combination of strengthening, stretching, and aerobic conditioning. Strengthening exercises focus on strengthening the spinal column and the supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Stretching exercises and low-impact aerobic exercises, on the other hand, are designed to alleviate pain. Stretches for sciatica are designed to target tight, inflexible muscles that can cause pain. Low-impact cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or swimming, can release endorphins to naturally relieve the pain caused by sciatica.
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