Sciatica is a painful condition caused by a pinched, inflamed, or injured sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is located at the base of the spine and runs down the back of the leg. It is responsible for supplying sensation to the leg, knee, ankle, and sole of the foot. It also helps the muscles in these areas move in tandem with each other.
Sciatica is unfortunately quite common and is estimated to impact more than three million people annually in the United States alone. The pain can be debilitating and pressure on the sciatic nerve can cause reflex abnormalities and muscle weakness. If left untreated, sciatic pain can continue to worsen and lead to potentially permanent repercussions. To prevent this type of outcome, it’s wise for people with the condition to schedule physical therapy Seattle treatment sessions.
What Causes Sciatic Pain
There are a number of things that can lead to the development of sciatic pain. Here are some of the most common causes of the condition:
- Herniated discs (caused by bulging cartilage)
- Spondylolisthesis (a degenerative disc disorder)
- Spinal stenosis (excessive narrowing in the spinal canal)
- Piriformis syndrome (when the piriformis muscle tightens involuntarily)
There are also certain lifestyle factors that could lead to the development of sciatic pain. They include being overweight, smoking, wearing high heels, and sleeping on a mattress that’s too hard or soft.
How Sciatica Is Diagnosed
If you think you may have sciatica, it’s important to get an official diagnosis from a healthcare professional. You may wish to begin by searching online for “physical therapy near me.” Schedule an appointment with a physical therapist in your area to see if you have sciatica or some other condition.
To diagnose sciatica, your healthcare provider may check the strength and reflexes of your muscles. They may also take an x-ray of your spine to reveal what’s going on in the affected area. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electromyography (EMG) and CT scans may also help reveal whether the underlying cause of your pain is due to problems with the sciatic nerve.
Excellent Stretches to Relieve Pain
When searching for “physical therapy near me,” look for a provider that has experience dealing with sciatica. A good physical therapist will most likely recommend exercises that can help relieve pressure on the nerve and strengthen your core. They may also give you a stretching regimen to help relieve your pain and regain mobility. Here are some of the top stretches for relieving sciatic nerve pain and pressure:
- Back-lying hip flexor stretch
- Side-lying hip stretch
- Back-lying hip rotation
- Stomach-lying buttocks flexion
- Opposite knee-to-shoulder stretch
It’s important to maintain good form throughout all of these stretches so you don’t put excessive strain on your back and injure it further. Your physical therapist will show you how to properly do all of these stretches so you don’t exacerbate your condition. Always follow the stretching and exercise recommendations given by your therapist to get the best results from your treatment.
Sciatic pain can be intense, but there are things you can do to relieve it. Visit your physical therapist for a diagnosis and treatment plan so you can get back to doing the things you love without constant pain.