Can Physical Therapy Relieve My Sciatica for Good?

Jul 06, 2023
Can Physical Therapy Relieve My Sciatica for Good?
The symptoms of sciatica can be debilitating. If you want to find relief, physical therapy should play a role in your treatment plan. Read on to learn more.

Sciatica symptoms include shooting pain that starts in your lower back and extends into one side of your buttock and leg. The discomfort is often so intense that you’re afraid to move, so you don’t trigger the nerve.

But moving is also one of the best ways to remedy your sciatica and prevent the condition from recurring. But there is a caveat; the movement needs to be in the form of physical therapy.

Our team at Sunshine Spine and Pain Specialists, PLLC, including Dr. Peter Fernandez and Dr. Amanda Fernandez, is well-versed in helping our clients move past back pain, and we understand that it takes a multi-pronged approach.

In this blog, we discuss physical therapy's essential role in remedying spine conditions like sciatica. 

Sciatica basics

To understand why physical therapy (PT) is so beneficial when you have sciatica, it’s helpful to understand the anatomy of the condition.

Your sciatica nerve is the largest in your body and starts in your lower back. More specifically, the nerve is made up of five pairs of nerve roots that exit your lumbar spine and fuse together. This large nerve then splits into two branches that travel down each side of your buttocks, into each leg, and to your feet.

With sciatica, something compresses the nerve in your lower back, usually a herniated disc or a narrowing in your spinal canal (spinal stenosis). Other conditions can also compress your sciatic nerve, such as pregnancy, arthritis, or a back injury.

Sciatica is common and affects between 10% and 40% of the population. The prevalence tends to peak with people in their 40s.

The role of physical therapy

The best ways to treat a nerve compression issue like sciatica is to provide better support for your spine and more space for your nerves, both of which can be accomplished through PT.

PT for sciatica typically first focuses on stretches that create more room for your sciatic nerve. It also addresses the entrapment. Since the compression is caused or exacerbated by tight muscles, PT typically starts there and releases your:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip flexors
  • Extensors
  • Abdominals
  • Obliques

At the same time as your physical therapist works on stretching these muscle groups, they also concentrate on strengthening them so that your spine receives better support. That provides you with immediate relief of your sciatica symptoms and prevention against future nerve entrapment.

Beyond the muscles, PT also improves the health of the connective and supportive soft tissues around your lower back, including ligaments and tendons.

Easing into PT

We understand that the thought of PT might seem impossible when you’re in the middle of a sciatica episode. To help, we can provide an interventional injection that relieves the pain and eases the inflammation so you can get to work.

You can declare victory on your sciatica through our pain management efforts with our team and your PT. 

For relief from your sciatica, please schedule an appointment at our office in Sarasota, Florida. You can call 941-867-7463 or use our online booking tool.