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Physical Therapy as a Sciatica Treatment

When your sciatica pain is moderate and persists beyond a couple of weeks, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. Physical therapy can be beneficial to patients suffering from sciatica pain in a variety of ways. Improving posture, strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility are just a few benefits of physical therapy.

Sciatica Pain Treatments –Physical Therapy

When it comes to treating sciatica pain with physical therapy, there is no one way that works best for everyone. Treatment plans are often designed around each individual patient and their specific needs. For some, passive treatment plans are better suited. Other patients need active physical therapy treatment options. Both types of treatment are designed to relieve sciatica pain in patients.

Is Physical Therapy as a Sciatica Pain Treatment Right for You?

When it comes to physical therapy as a treatment for sciatica pain, there are two treatment types. First are passive physical therapy treatment options. Passive treatment methods can include using heat and ice, ultrasound and manual therapies. Using heat and ice may seem self-explanatory; however, it is recommended to use ice first to decrease inflammation before using heat to ease muscle pain. Ultrasound is another form of passive physical therapy treatment for sciatica pain. Ultrasounds are used to diagnose soft tissue injuries. Better diagnosis leads to more specified treatment plans. Finally, manual therapy is a specialized treatment option in which your therapist will use his or her hands to manipulate muscles, tendons and joints in an effort to relieve sciatica pain. The therapist will put pressure on specific areas to decrease muscle tension and spasms. This addresses sciatica pain and requires no physical effort from the patient who is experiencing the back pain.

Active physical therapy requires more effort from the patient. Active physical therapy for sciatica consists of low impact aerobic conditioning, strengthening and stretching. Low impact aerobic conditioning involves activities such as swimming and walking. Aerobic exercises help fluids and nutrients travel throughout your body, which promotes healing. It can also relieve pain by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever. Strengthening exercises focus on relieving strain on your spine, thus relieving sciatica pain. These exercises promote strengthening of the abdominal muscles and the muscles in your buttocks and hips. Stretching exercises almost always include stretching of the hamstrings as well as the lower back. Sciatica pain can cause these muscles to become tight and inflexible which can mean a never-ending cycle of pain. Stretching is very important to break that cycle. Your physical therapist is highly trained to evaluate your conditions and to develop the best sciatica pain treatment plan for you. Physical therapists review your physician’s notes and evaluate you in-person. Each person has his or her own habits and body mechanics, so no patient will have the same treatment plan as the next. If you have questions about your treatment plan, talk to your physical therapist about it. They are eager to help!

Physical Therapy At-a-Glance

  • Heat and Cold Therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Manual Body Manipulation
  • Low-impact Aerobic Exercises
  • Strength Training and Muscle Conditioning
  • Gentle Stretching

Health Tips For Spine

  • Always practice good posture to prevent spine injury
  • Keep muscles that support the spine strong including the abdomen, buttocks and hips
  • Stretch well prior to rigorous exercise
  • Use proper body mechanics when lifting items

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