Can Physical Therapy Resolve My Recurrent Sciatica?

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Are you tired of dealing with sciatica that keeps coming back? Physical therapy could offer the long-lasting pain relief you’re seeking. Find out how physical therapy builds strength, reduces pain, and improves quality of life.

Excruciating pain that radiates from your back down your leg. Uncomfortable numbness and tingling. Muscle weakness that restricts your mobility. Sound familiar?

These are all symptoms of sciatica — a potentially debilitating condition that develops when your sciatic nerve gets pinched or irritated. Up to 40% of people suffer sciatica at some point in their lives, and for some, the symptoms keep coming back again and again.

Recurrent sciatica can seriously impact your quality of life. And while there are various treatment options available, physical therapy stands out as a noninvasive and effective approach for long-term relief.

Dr. Maher Ibrahim and our team at Interventional Pain Management Associates offer personalized sciatica care, and here’s what you should know about the benefits of physical therapy for managing and resolving recurrent sciatica.

Understanding recurrent sciatica

Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. When it gets compressed or irritated, it can cause symptoms like pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness in your back, buttocks, and legs.

Sciatica is often the result of another spine issue, like a herniated disc, bone spur, or spinal stenosis. These conditions can compress the nerve, causing pain that radiates from your lower back through your buttocks and down one leg. The intensity of your pain can vary, from a mild ache to sharp, shooting sensations that take your breath away.

For many people with sciatica, symptoms resolve with a month or two of conservative care. But for others, sciatica comes back again and again. Recurrent sciatica can be more difficult to treat, making it a frustrating condition.

How physical therapy can help recurrent sciatica

Among all the treatment options for sciatica, physical therapy is an appealing choice — especially if you’re dealing with sciatica that keeps coming back. It’s noninvasive, drug-free, and has the power to make a significant difference for your quality of life.

Relieve pain

Pain management is one of the primary objectives of physical therapy for sciatica. Your physical therapist evaluates your condition, then uses a variety of techniques to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

We may recommend targeted exercises, manual therapy, heat or ice therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to help reduce inflammation and release tension in the affected muscles. 

Throughout therapy, we work with you to improve your functional abilities. By targeting specific movements that may trigger or exacerbate sciatica, we help restore functionally and make it easier to perform daily activities with less pain.

Build strength and stability

Weak muscles in your core, back, and legs can contribute to sciatic nerve irritation. If you have areas of weakness, your physical therapist can design a personalized exercise program to target and strengthen these muscle groups.

Stronger muscles help stabilize your spine and reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve. Strengthening your core muscles, in particular, can improve your posture and alleviate stress (and pain) in your lower back.

Improve flexibility

Tight muscles can exacerbate sciatic pain, and pain may make you more likely to further restrict your movements. Your physical therapist can incorporate targeted stretching exercises to improve flexibility and mobility in your lower back, hips, and legs.

Along with the exercises you do in your physical therapy sessions, we may prescribe exercises and stretches to do at home. Regular stretching helps reduce muscle tension and pressure on your sciatic nerve, promoting healing and longer-lasting pain relief.

Encourage better posture

Poor posture and improper body mechanics can make your sciatica worse. During physical therapy, we assess any postural imbalances or movement patterns you may have that could be aggravating your condition.

We work with you to correct those issues, educating you on proper body mechanics and teaching you how to move and lift objects safely to prevent future sciatica flare-ups.

Incorporate lifestyle modifications

Physical therapy isn’t just about exercises. It also incorporates recommendations to help you manage pain in your everyday life.

Depending on your needs, we can suggest lifestyle modifications to relieve symptoms of sciatica. A few common changes include making ergonomic adjustments at work or home, switching to more supportive footwear, and avoiding activities that make your symptoms worse.

It's important to note that the success of physical therapy depends on your commitment to the prescribed exercises and lifestyle changes. Consistency and dedication to your treatment plan are key to achieving long-term relief.

Ready to find out what physical therapy could do for your recurrent sciatica? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Ibrahim at Interventional Pain Management Associates at 609-838-2900 or send us a message online.