At any given time, a whopping 65 million Americans say they’ve suffered a recent bout with back pain, but those who suffer with a specific type — sciatica — report that the pain can be so severe it feels like an electric jolt.
Between 10% and 40% of people suffer with this specific type of back pain at some point.
With sciatica, the pain follows the course of your sciatic nerve, which starts at the base of your spine and goes down to your lower back, running all the way down your hip, buttock, and into your leg. When it becomes inflamed or aggravated, sciatica pain emerges, as well as movement problems.
Sciatica is frequently linked to a herniated or ruptured disc, but it can also develop from an injury, like a stress fracture. Bones spurs and spinal canal narrowing also contribute to developing it, as does simply getting older.
Fortunately, physical therapy is an effective option for sciatic pain. At Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation, physical therapists Billy Reilly and Paul LaRosa have helped many of our patients reclaim their comfort and mobility after suffering with sciatica symptoms.
They know everyone’s sciatica experience is unique and are dedicated to listening to you well before they ever begin to create a customized treatment plan.
As we noted, sciatica can be debilitating, and the pain is location-specific. Here are some additional things to remember about its symptoms:
You might also feel tingling, numbness in your back, hip, or leg, or cramping and muscle weakness.
Though some sciatica sufferers require surgery, often less invasive treatments are appropriate.
Pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and steroid injections all have their place in treating sciatica, but physical therapy can be key in managing sciatica symptoms.
We take a detailed history of your sciatica pain, evaluate your overall health, and answer your questions and concerns. The underlying cause of your sciatica, from a herniated disc to a vertebral bone spur, guides your treatment.
We also examine whether certain factors are making your sciatica worse. These include problems with walking, as we mentioned before, as well as posture issues.
When we use physical therapy to treat sciatica, you can expect to receive care that:
The goal is to build a more solid foundation for your back. Your commitment to consistent care and the fact that you’ll see the same physical therapist for every visit means that your treatment isn’t just a stabilizing force for you physically, but emotionally too.
Your treatment plan will likely involve a mixture of passive and active treatments. Examples of active treatments include:
Passive treatments such as ice or heat therapy and electrophysiological stimulation both prepare you for active treatment and help you recover from it.
We may also recommend a functional movement screening for you prior to treatment. This is a screening we do that more clearly reveals your movement patterns and their efficiency, and any problems that might make it more likely you’ll sustain an injury.
We review the factors that put you at higher risk for suffering from sciatica. These include being overweight or obese and living with diabetes. Interestingly, you’re at higher risk whether you work in a job that requires lots of heavy lifting, twisting, and bending, or if you work a sedentary job that involves lots of sitting.
In addition to in-office treatment, we work with you to develop lifestyle habits that support back health — including achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking if you use tobacco, and lifting heavy objects safely — serve to preserve the positive results of your physical therapy treatments and prevent a sciatica recurrence.
We partner with practitioners who are versed in treating sciatica as well, so your care is well-coordinated. We know you may have questions about PT in general, so review our Q&A section on this website.
Call our New York City office in Midtown East, Manhattan, to schedule an appointment for sciatica treatment, or book one online today.