A healthcare professional may refer you to a physical therapist to help you relieve your sciatica. Physical therapy includes both passive and active treatments. Passive treatments help unwind you and your body. These ultimately prepare your body for therapeutic exercises, which are the active treatments commonly utilized as a part of physical therapy.
Your physical therapist can give you passive treatments such as:
- Deep tissue massage: This procedure targets chronic muscle stress which can be compressing or irritating your sciatic nerve and its associated nerve roots. The physical therapist uses direct friction and pressure to attempt to release the tension in your soft tissues, such as the tendons, ligaments and muscles.
- Hot and cold therapies: By employing heat, the physical therapist seeks to get more blood to the target region because an increased blood circulation brings more oxygen and nutrients to the affected area. By way of instance, a heating pack placed on your piriformis muscle may help to reduce muscle spasms that could be causing your sciatica. Cold therapy, on the other hand, slows down blood flow, helping to decrease inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. Your physical therapist will alternate between hot and cold therapies in order to achieve the desired results.
- TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation): It may even be used at home, if your physical therapist thinks it is necessary. A machine stimulates your muscles through a variety of safe intensities of electric current. TENS helps decrease muscle spasms, and it might increase your body’s production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. The TENS equipment your physical therapist utilizes is larger than the “at-home” usage system. Whether big or small, a TENS device may be an essential treatment for sciatica and its associated symptoms.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasound sends sound waves deep in your muscle tissues and makes a gentle heat that enhances circulation and helps to speed up recovery. Greater circulation can help to reduce muscle spasms, cramping, swelling, stiffness, and pain.
In the active part of physical therapy, your physical therapist will teach you various exercises to help treat your sciatica. Your physical therapy’s treatment program is individualized, taking into account your overall health and wellness as well as your medical history. It might consist of strengthening exercises, aerobic conditioning, and movements to increase endurance and range of movement.
Physical therapy might be part of a comprehensive sciatica treatment plan prescribed by your healthcare professional. Aside from receiving physical therapy for your sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, the following list includes other treatment options which are often considered when discussing the best treatment options for your source of sciatica symptoms. These treatments include:
- Alternative treatments, such as acupuncture;
- Chiropractic care;
- Drugs and/or medications; and
If necessary, your physical therapist may teach you how to fix your posture and integrate ergonomic principles into your everyday activities. This will be done in order to work on preventing future episodes of sciatica. Of the list of treatment options to help treat sciatica, chiropractic care and physical therapy are similar to each other and may involve common treatment modalities. However, a chiropractor uses spinal adjustments and manual manipulations to relieve symptoms of sciatica by carefully restoring the original alignment of the spine and reducing spinal stress and tension.
Dr. Alex Jimenez’s Insight
As its previously been addressed, because sciatica can occur due to a variety of injuries and/or aggravated conditions, a proper diagnosis followed by the best treatment option for the patient’s source of their symptoms is key for overall improvement and prevention of further episodes of sciatic nerve pain. Among the various types of treatment, chiropractic care and physical therapy are popular alternative treatment approaches which help treat sciatica, without the need for drugs and/or medications or surgical interventions. Chiropractic care focuses on correcting the alignment of the spine through the use of spinal adjustments and manual manipulations in order to release tension on the spine and improve sciatic nerve pain.
Chiropractic Care for Sciatica
Chiropractic care is a well-known alternative treatment option which is regularly used to treat sciatica. Proper diagnosis of sciatica Is essential before considering any of the above treatment modalities. Because there are lots of disorders that cause sciatica, the chiropractor’s first step towards treating sciatica would be to determine what’s causing the patient’s relapse. Forming a diagnosis involves a thoughtful review of the patient’s medical history as well as a physical and neurological evaluation.
Diagnostic testing includes x-rays, MRI, CT scans and/or electrodiagnostic tests (nerve conduction speed, electromyography). These examinations and evaluations help to detect potential contraindications to spinal adjustments and manual manipulations along with other chiropractic alternative treatment options. The aim of chiropractic care is to help the human body heal itself. Chiropractic care is noninvasive (non-surgical) and drug-free.
The type of chiropractic care provided depends on the reason for the individual’s sciatica. A sciatica treatment program might include several distinct therapies like ice/cold treatments, ultrasound, TENS, (similar to those used in physical therapy) and spinal adjustments and manual manipulations. Spinal adjustments and manual manipulations differ from a swift high velocity push to those that combine minimal pressure and gentle force. Mastery of every method is an art which requires great precision and skill. Spinal adjustments and manual manipulations are the treatment modalities that differentiate chiropractic care from other medical disciplines.
However, sciatica can be brought on by other disorders beyond the scope of chiropractic care. If the chiropractor determines that the patient’s source of their symptoms requires treatment from a different type of doctor, then the patient is referred to another healthcare professional. In some instances, the chiropractor may continue to treat the patient and also co-manage the patient’s care with another healthcare professional.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic as well as to spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Sciatica
Sciatica is medically referred to as a collection of symptoms, rather than a single injury and/or condition. Symptoms of sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, can vary in frequency and intensity, however, it is most commonly described as a sudden, sharp (knife-like) or electrical pain that radiates from the low back down the buttocks, hips, thighs and legs into the foot. Other symptoms of sciatica may include, tingling or burning sensations, numbness and weakness along the length of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica most frequently affects individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 years. It may often develop as a result of the degeneration of the spine due to age, however, the compression and irritation of the sciatic nerve caused by a bulging or herniated disc, among other spinal health issues, may also cause sciatic nerve pain.