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How Physiotherapy can help Sciatica

how physiotherapy can help Sciatica

A Physio’s Guide To Sciatica: Causes, Treatments, And Exercises

Sciatica is characterised by pain that starts in the lower back or buttock and travels into one or both legs. Sciatic nerve pain often varies in its’ intensity and frequency, however usually there will be a component of sharp, jabbing or “electric shock” pains that radiate into the legs. Sciatic pain is also commonly associated with burning, numbness and tingling sensations. Muscle weakness is another frequent symptom of sciatica that requires careful monitoring.

This article looks at what sciatic nerve pain is caused, how to treat it, and what exercises may help relieve the pain. To assess your sciatic nerve, book your appointment at Northern Districts Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic today.

The Causes of Sciatica

Sciatica is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve – an extensive nerve that originates from the lower lumbar spine and travels through the buttock into the leg as far as the back of the knee.

Pressure on the sciatic nerve can result from a number of reasons, including piriformis syndrome (tightness of the piriformis muscle in the buttock that compresses the sciatic nerve), spinal misalignments, vertebral dysfunction, herniated disc, disc prolapse, osteoarthritis, poor posture, wearing high heels, prolonged sitting, poor mattress, poor lifting technique, poor bending habits or spinal compression due to osteoporosis.

Once sciatic pain is noticed, it’s essential to book an assessment with a physiotherapist to begin treatment. If left untreated, sciatica can cause chronic and lifelong issues with the spine and back of a patient.

Sciatica Treatment

Treatments for Sciatica

As sciatica is due to pressure on the sciatic nerve, it makes sense that the treatment involves removing this pressure. Our Physiotherapy treatment aims to achieve this by reducing nerve pressure caused by poorly moving spinal joints and easing muscular tension in the lower spine, buttock and leg.

This is achieved by using a combination of the following techniques:

  • Spinal mobilisations
  • Massage therapy and trigger point therapy
  • Stretching tight muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments
  • Ultrasound and other electrical stimulation devices
  • Advice on how to minimise pressure and irritation of the sciatic nerve

Exercises to Relieve Discomfort

Treatment varies from patient to patient, but exercise has been proven to improve mobility and relieve pain. There are four stages to creating an exercise routine that provides relief.

  • Education: to find a physical activity that works best for your nerves, a physio can provide information on the patient’s lower back state.
  • Self-management: utilising hot and cold packs to target pain and decrease inflammation can help patients get into a routine.
  • Regular movement: small changes in daily life can help prevent further pain, changing positions regularly (from sitting to standing) and correcting posture and lifting techniques to allow daily mobility.
  • Exercise: core strength is important for nerve pain, so regularly stretching your spine and building strength in your abdomen is recommended. Committing to regular light activities such as daily walks, swimming, or aqua therapy is another way to continue to exercise without putting stress on your lower back.

There is a range of at-home stretches to help relieve and decompress the sciatic nerve.

  • Pigeon poses (reclining, sitting and forward) can open your hips to relieve pressure in your lower back. It’s recommended to start with the reclining pose to begin, and once this can be completed without pain, you can move to the sitting and forward variations to further stretch your muscles.
  • Spine targeting stretches (standing piriformis, basic seated and sitting spinal) are good for decompressing your spine and creating space for the sciatic nerve to relax.
  • Hamstring stretches (scissor stretch, groin stretch and standing) are the final group that works with decompressing sciatic nerve pain. This target the tightness of the hamstring that can cause sciatic pain in patients. By stretching this muscle, you allow the tightness to lessen pressure on the spine.

Sciatic pain treatment

How NDPE Can Help You With Sciatic Nerve Pain

Treating sciatica isn’t easy, but the best tool you can have is education. Many factors can lead to sciatica, but it is best to manage the pain with a physio and other pain specialists to provide the best healthcare possible. Regular exercise is essential in managing this condition and beginning to move on with your life.

If you are suffering from sciatic pain, you can trust a physiotherapist at NDPE. You can achieve optimal results when you address the symptoms early. Our team will devise a tailored treatment plan to suit your pain. You will also be given a series of home stretching exercises and asked to apply ice and heat to your pain! Contact our clinic below for more information on your tailored treatment plan.





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Northern Districts Physiotherapy

Northern Districts Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic was established in 1995 and consists of an energetic team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who take the time to understand ...


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West Ryde NSW 2114

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