Our Edison physical therapists provide optimal treatment for low back pain and sciatica
Low back pain can develop from a number of different causes, and it may come and go or last for a long while. For some people, the pain is not confined only to the lower back and they experience bothersome issues in one of their legs as well. This condition is called sciatica, which can create additional complications for patients that experience it. Fortunately, our Edison physical therapists can effectively address this issue with exercise and a variety of other interventions.
Sciatica is technically not a medical diagnosis itself, but rather a symptom of some other underlying lower back condition, the most common of which are herniated disc, degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis. The sciatic nerve is the longest single nerve in the body, and it branches from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks, and then down each leg. Sciatica occurs when this nerve becomes pinched, either from one of the above lower back conditions or by an overgrowth of bone in the vertebrae.
Natural, age-related changes are the most common cause for sciatica, and this is why it occurs most frequently between ages 40-50. Other factors that may increase the chances of developing sciatica are the excess weight placed on the spine from obesity, diabetes, leading a sedentary lifestyle (too much time sitting) and possibly jobs that involve lots of twisting of the back.
Patients with sciatica usually experience constant pain in the legs and possibly buttocks that’s often described as a burning, tingling or searing sensation. This pain almost always occurs on only one side of the body and often gets worse after sitting for a long period of time. Patients may also have weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the lower leg, and these feelings can vary in different parts of the leg.
Although sciatica can be a distraction and a deterrent to your everyday life, in most cases it’s not a major problem and will improve with a course of conservative (non-surgical) treatment. Physical therapy is considered a central component of most conservative sciatica treatment programs, and it’s known to lead to improved outcomes with less pain and symptoms. Our Edison physical therapists see and treat patients with sciatica regularly, and our personalized treatment programs typically consist of the following:
- (Before beginning treatment, your physical therapist will first identify the underlying cause of the sciatica, and base treatment around this condition)
- Strengthening exercises: one of the most effective ways to treat sciatica is to strengthen the muscles of the back, as well as the abs, buttocks and core, which support the spine; these exercises will build up muscles in these regions
- Stretching exercises: these exercises will target muscles that are tight and inflexible in the back and hamstrings (back thigh muscles)
- Aerobic exercise: your therapist will recommend low-impact cardiovascular exercise like walking, swimming, biking, yoga or possibly even Tai chi
- Passive treatments: additional treatments like massage, ultrasound and ice or heat therapy will also be applied by your therapist to reduce your pain levels
- Education: finally, your therapist will offer tips and education on how to reduce complications from sciatica, such as using proper posture at all times, avoiding too much time sitting, getting enough sleep and avoiding smoking
Unless your sciatica is severe, following this type of treatment program will lead to benefits that you’ll notice in the short term, and by adopting healthy habits and staying active, you can keep sciatica complications at bay in the long term. Our Edison physical therapists are on-hand and prepared to address your sciatica or any other pain you may be having with your lower back—or just about anywhere else in the body. Contact Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Somerville, Union, Woodbridge and Edison, NJ at 732-494-0895 or click here to schedule an appointment today.