Everything you need to know about Sciatica
Sciatica can put a strain on the body and make everyday functions seem impossible. Luckily, a registered physiotherapist will be able to help identify the root cause of your symptoms and help you along the path to recovery. A pinched sciatic nerve will cause pain in the lower back and in one of your legs. Although most cases of sciatica go away on their own, physiotherapy treatment can help relieve pain while you heal. With the right combination of physiotherapy treatments, you’ll be back to normal in no time.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, is an ailment characterized by pain shooting down the leg. In general, sciatica is an indication of a related condition that might be undiagnosed. The most common cause of sciatica is spinal disk herniation, usually due to heavy lifting. Pregnancy may also cause sciatica, particularly as the due date draws nearer. Symptoms typically occur on only one side of the body and can result in numbness in the leg. This asymmetrical numbness can make simple tasks like walking painful and uncomfortable, symptoms a physiotherapist can help you address.
How is Sciatica Diagnosed?
If you think you might have sciatica, your best bet is to speak to a physiotherapist. Sciatica can be a symptom of a separate spinal disorder, so the root cause of your sciatica will need to be identified. Through examining the medical history and current symptoms, a physiotherapist will attempt to identify what is causing your sciatica. In some cases, imaging tests may also be required in order to diagnose sciatica.
Usually, sciatica will heal on its own in about six weeks. In severe cases, however, untreated sciatica can lead to a loss of bladder or bowel control. If the condition is longstanding, pain medication and surgery may be required. Speaking to a registered physiotherapist will help determine what steps to take to ensure your sciatica doesn’t cause lasting damage.
Six weeks may seem manageable, but when you’ve got intense lower back pain and numbness in one leg, it can be hard to focus on anything else. Luckily, here are some options recommended by physiotherapists to help relieve your symptoms in the meantime.
How to Treat Sciatica
When you’re experiencing back pain, even the smallest movements can be painful. It may seem counterintuitive, but warming up your muscles by staying active can provide effective sciatica pain relief. That said, if you feel your sciatica acting up while you are being active, don’t push yourself. Your registered physiotherapist will be able to recommend specific exercises or stretches that successfully target your pain points.
Sciatica sufferers may benefit from taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce symptoms. Talk to your physiotherapist for specific recommendations regarding medication to treat sciatica. In more serious cases, steroid injections can offer relief for months at a time.
Treatments like massage, acupuncture, and physiotherapy can be highly effective when it comes to treating sciatic nerve pain. Massage can ease the pressure on your nerves to release tension throughout your body. Switching between hot and cold therapies increases blood flow, resulting in improved circulation. Chiropractic adjustments can improve alignment in the spinal column and correct posture. An ideal physiotherapy treatment plan will combine a variety of these treatments to address your needs. You and your physiotherapist may need to try a few different approaches to find what works for you.
If you have been suffering from sciatica for over six weeks without improvement, it may be time to consider a more permanent treatment. The specific surgery you receive will depend on the underlying cause of your sciatica. Surgery is a huge decision, so make sure to spend some time discussing your options with your physiotherapy team.
Whatever the cause of your sciatica, seeing a professional physiotherapist is the way to go. Our physiotherapy clinic in Mississauga specializes in creating individualized treatment plans that will offer sciatica pain relief in no time.
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