Physiotherapy for lower back pain and sciatica is a great noninvasive pain relief therapy for those diagnosed with sciatica. Sciatica is a radiating pain originating from your leg to the lateral side of your body, and this can manifest in itself and also cause other ailments like a bulging or herniated disk.  Before we talk about the benefits of physiotherapy for sciatica, let’s explore a little and learn what this ailment is about. 

What is Sciatica? 

Sciatica is known as the pain that originates from the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches along the hips, the buttocks, and each leg. In its most common presentations, sciatica affects only one side of the body. It is most commonly manifested as a direct consequence of a herniated disk, or spinal stenosis, which is when the narrowing of a spine compresses on the nerve or a part of the nerve. Sciatica causes inflammation, pain, numbness, and much more in the affected leg. Sciatica pain management can take routes like painkillers or physiotherapy for sciatica, but mostly it falls under the branch of non-operative treatments, which usually relieve painful symptoms in a few weeks. However, people with severe sciatica with profound leg weakness, numbness or pain, and severe bowel or bladder changes may consider surgical options with their doctor. 

What are the Causes and Risk Factors for Sciatica? 

As we found out, sciatica pain occurs when the nerve becomes pinched which is usually a direct consequence of a herniated disk in the spine, a bone spur- which is an overgrowth of bone in the vertebrae. However, in most rare cases, sciatica can also be caused if the sciatic nerve is being compressed by a tumor or severely affected by diseases such as diabetes. 

The causes and risk factors for sciatica mainly include the following

Diabetes
Rising obesity and consumption of fast foods or foods laden with refined sugar has made diabetes a pervasive problem all over the world. Diabetes affects the way your body metabolizes blood sugar that vastly exacerbates the risk of nerve damage. Plus, diabetes increases your weight that puts extra weight and pressure on your spine leading to a bulging disk ultimately leading to sciatica. 

Sedentary Lifestyle
Another lifestyle risk factor is a sedentary lifestyle that puts you at risk for sciatica is a sedentary lifestyle. Hours of sitting in front of a computer, or leading an inactive life without any movement or exercise can cause pressure on your spine, leading to sciatica. 

Age
Age is one of the strongest risk factors for a bulging or herniated disk that causes sciatica in the first place. As we grow older, our spine also goes through age-related changes and becomes more prone to bone spurs and herniated disks that cause sciatica. 

Occupational Risks
Some occupations put people at more risk of developing sciatica and the causal factors for the same. In occupations like driving or jobs that require you to carry heavy loads, or just sit in one place too long like many jobs these days, the stress on your spine becomes heavy causing sciatica. 

Also Read: Thoracic Back Pain – Causes, Symptoms and Physiotherapy Treatment

What are the symptoms of Sciatica? 

Before considering physiotherapy for sciatica, identify these symptoms:

  • Numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot. You may also have a combination of pain in one part and numbness in the other. 
  • The pain originates from the lower spine to the buttock down the back of the leg. This is the main differentiator of sciatica pain. 
  • Although you might be feeling general discomfort, it is specifically felt more from the low back to the buttock, and also through the back of the thigh and calf. 
  • There is also a variation in the kind of pain you might be feeling. It can be mild, it can feel like a jolt or an electric shock. It can also feel like a burning sensation or an excruciating pain worsened every time you cough, sneeze or sit. 

What are the benefits of Physiotherapy for Sciatica? 

Massage Therapy – Massage therapies are excellent stress and pain relief techniques that can go a long way in treating sciatica. This technique works as it releases tension and stress in the muscles that are putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Further, massage therapy is also helpful for short-term pain relief as it releases endorphins which help in the release of endorphins that can help with effective pain management, naturally. Massage therapies are essential components in physiotherapy for sciatica and lower back pain. 

Acupuncture Therapy – There is positive evidence that shows that acupuncture is an effective form of treatment for sciatica, and this forms a part of the treatment plan for physiotherapy for sciatica. This treatment plan works by inserting tiny needles into particular sites on the body that dramatically reduces inflammation, provide short-term and long-term pain relief and also help in relaxing the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve that helps you to relax that part of the body. Used along with physical therapy, this treatment plan works to relieve pain and symptoms in the long run. 

Physical Exercise – When diagnosed with any kind of pain, the myth is that you should be on bed rest, but this will only worsen your condition. It is better to stay active and do corrective exercises to prevent these flare-ups in the long term. Maintaining an active lifestyle that reduces inflammation and the risk of disturbing the sciatic nerve. The Phythealth app designs an exercise regime for sciatica and online physiotherapy consultations that can help ensure that you are on the right treatment track! 

Stretching – Through the AI-powered online consultations at Phythealth, physiotherapy exercises and stretches are recommended to treat and manage sciatica.  Your assigned physiotherapist will understand the root cause of the pain and work with you to understand the tight spots and recommend stretches that are based on your needs and pain points.

Download the Phyt Health app for 3D and AI-assisted insights on your posture and movements that recommend exercises to help you with your pain. You can also book an online physiotherapy consultation session with our expert physiotherapists today! At Phythealth, which is India’s first AI-assisted digital physiotherapy service, customizes treatment plans based on your risk factors, providing you a holistic treatment plan for physiotherapy for lower back pain or sciatica, on their digital physiotherapy platform.