How Physical Therapy Can Help Treat Sciatica

April 5, 2021 10:36 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

A common misconception about sciatica pain is that the body should be left to rest and heal on its own. While a few days of rest are fine, targeted stretches and exercises can actually alleviate pain and speed up recovery. But how do you figure out which activities are best for your specific source of pain? That’s where physical therapy in Napa County, CA comes in—read on if you’re wondering, “Can PT help ease my sciatic pain?”

What is sciatica?

The longest nerve in the body is the sciatic nerve, which typically starts around the lower back, extending all the way down through each leg. Sciatica is the pain that occurs in this nerve, usually affecting only one side of the lower body. It can develop due to various reasons, including medical conditions, pregnancy, muscle spasms or anything that causes the compression of a part of the sciatic nerve.

How physical therapy helps sciatica

Sciatic pain can be alleviated with exercises and stretches targeted at the source of the pain. Not only can an individualized treatment plan designed by a physical therapist minimize or eliminate the pain, but it can help strengthen the body by improving muscle strength and flexibility. Physical therapy can also aid the healing process by improving circulation and increasing oxygen content in blood.

Common physical therapy treatments for sciatica

A personalized treatment plan for sciatica in Napa County, CA may include manual therapy, in which a physical therapist employs hands-on techniques to reduce compressive forces on the sciatic nerve. The physical therapist may also work on strengthening the spinal column and its supporting tendons and muscles, as well as the core muscles, for sciatica relief and future prevention.

Stretching loosens up the tight and inflexible muscles that are causing pain. The sciatic nerve itself can be stretched to release tension so it can freely move within the body once again. Nerve stretches may also be known as nerve glides or neural flossing, and they’re implemented to both facilitate movement and reduce discomfort.

Strengthening exercises may be recommended to further strengthen the back and the core, both of which support the sciatic nerve. These exercises could involve only body weight or actual weight machines, with the intensity adjusted appropriately for pain and capability levels. Examples may include plank or bridge holds, resistance band exercises or weight training.

A physical therapist may also prescribe low-impact aerobic exercises for sciatica. Aerobic or cardio activity increases oxygen flow into the body, which in turn improves bodily functions involved with recovery. Aerobic exercises also cause the body to release endorphins, which are chemicals produced to relieve stress and pain. Examples of suitable aerobic exercises for sciatica include walking and swimming.

Looking for physical therapy for sciatica in Napa County, CA? The expert team at Focus Forward Wellness & Physical Therapy will guide you along the road to recovery with customized therapy and fitness techniques. Contact us today to learn more about our services and get back to your old self!

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