Sciatica is pain along the sciatic nerves. These nerves run from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the legs, ending just below the knee.
Sciatica usually affects only one side. The pain is felt from the low back, through the buttock, and down the back of either leg. The pain is typically burning, shooting, or stabbing. Pain that starts in one place but travels to another, usually along the path of a nerve, is called radiating pain.
Sciatica may cause a pins-and-needles sensation, a nagging ache, or shooting pain down the path of the nerve. Numbness or weakness may be felt in the leg or foot. Walking, running, climbing stairs, straightening the leg, and sometimes coughing or straining worsens the pain, which is relieved by straightening the back or standing.
How physiotherapy management helps in relieving sciatic nerve pain?
If you are suffering from sciatica, then please don’t delay the treatment.
Sciatica occurs due to the strain on sciatic nerve. Most common cause of sciatica is compression of lumbar nerve root due to spinal disc herniation, disc bulge, spinal degeneration, even during pregnancy, it is common for sciatic nerve to be affected due to rapid increase in weight.
Pain is seen in lumbar spine and other areas such as pelvis, piriformis and glutes muscles.
Pain in sciatic nerve can radiate from spine to leg along the course of nerve.
Physiotherapy is a non-surgical treatment, aims to relieve pain and prevent further recurrence by relieving pressure from nerve. It consists of variety of techniques and exercises to reduce muscle spasms and pain and also to improve lumbar pain free range of motion and core strength which is necessary to maintain spinal posture.
Physiotherapy treatment comprises of
- Pain relieving modalities (IFT, Ultrasound),
- Exercises (for strengthening, stretching to relax muscles from spasm)
- Spinal stabilization
which is important to maintain good spinal posture in order to prevent compression or pressure on nerve due to disc bulge or slip of vertebrae on nerve.
Cryotherapy: Ice packs are applied to ease the pain of sciatica. Ice can be applied for about 20 minutes every two hours, but don’t allow an Ice pack to directly touch the skin. It improves blood circulation and relaxes muscles thus helps in reducing pain.
TENS: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation-TENS is used to relieve sciatic pain by stimulating sensory nerves and thereby activates pain gate mechanism which involves activation of sensory fibers and by doing so, reduces transmission of noxious stimulus through spinal cord.
IFT: Interferential therapy is used to relieve pain by stimulating peripheral nerve.
Exercise therapy: It is important to note that the less active the person is, the stiffer their muscles become. The appropriate exercise routine that suits person’s specific needs will be provided. The supervised exercise session is recommended along with spinal Mobilization, nerve Mobilization, strengthening exercises.
Mobilization is performed to improve range of motion and lumbar function in patients with sciatic pain.
Stretching exercise: It is recommended to target muscles causing discomfort when they are tight. Most people don’t stretch those muscles which is present from pelvis to knee at back of thigh, in their everyday activities.
Strengthening exercises: Help in building muscle to prevent sciatic pain. The spine and core muscles are important for maintaining proper posture and body alignment. When patients take part in regular mild exercises, they can recover faster from sciatic pain and are not as likely to have future reoccurrence of pain.
Aerobic conditioning exercises: like swimming, walking, running encourage the flow of fluids and nourishment to help make a greater recovery. Aerobic conditioning also has the advantage of releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers which help reduce sciatic pain.
Weight loss: Advice to be given to reduce weight because extra weight in core or abdominal area adds more pressure to spine, thus incorporating more vegetables and lean meats into diet and increasing exercise to lose extra weight, which can help reduce sciatic pain.
How Ayurveda Massage Therapy Reduces Sciatica
The goal of Ayurveda massage therapy is to gently relieve painful soft tissue tension by relaxing your body, thereby preparing your body for active therapies that promote strength, flexibility, and long-term pain prevention.
Ayurveda Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage targets specific spinal muscles in the lower back, hips and buttocks that may be compressing the sciatic nerve. The therapist uses direct pressure and friction to try to release the tension in your soft tissues of ligaments, tendons and muscles. Additionally ayurveda herbal steam relieves pain and stiffness .
The Goal of treating sciatica with physical therapy is to
- Provide symptom relief
- Promote healing of the underlying Root cause
- Prevent further recurrences and flareups
A combination of Physiotherapy , Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Therapeutic Yoga for low back pain and sciatica , can give faster and better relief .