Managing Sciatica

Back Pain and Sciatica Sep2nd 2016

Sciatica is more than just back pain, it also causes pain, numbness and weakness in the buttock and the back of the leg as the inflammation affects the sciatic nerve. This nerve originates in the lower pelvis region and traverses down the entire leg, radiating out to the toes. Sciatica and back pain related to sciatica, can be characterized by any of these symptoms:

  • Constant pain, typically in one buttock and leg.
  • Pain worsens upon sitting.
  • Leg pain feels like a tingling or burning sensation.
  • Numbness can affect the leg, foot and toes, creating weakness and difficulty in movement.
  • Standing or walking results in sharp pain.
  • Pain radiates from the buttock down the leg and into the foot.


How does a person develop sciatica? It can be caused by a variety of injuries, medical conditions and even complications from certain birth defects. For example:

  • Bulging or herniated disc.
  • Spinal stenosis, which is a compression of spinal nerves, a condition more common in older adults.
  • Spondylolisthesis, a disorder in the lumbar spine usually caused from trauma or a birth defect with the disorder developing during childhood.
  • Trauma, such as an impact injury that causes nerve compression.
  • Piriformis syndrome caused by piriformis muscle spasms compressing the sciatic nerve.
  • Spinal tumor.


Although there are drug therapies to address the issue of pain and discomfort, to get to the root of the problem, the spine and sciatic nerve, there are other approaches that can bring about relief so that pain medications might be avoided altogether. The Mayo Clinicrecommends as alternatives to pain medication that sciatica sufferers explore treatment options such as:

  • Physical therapy to strengthen back muscles, improve posture and flexibility.
  • Steroid injections to alleviate inflammation of the irritated sciatic nerve.

In addition to physical therapy and corticosteroid treatment that a medical professional can provide, individuals can also perform daily stretching exercises. The following four poses and stretches are suggested by contributors to the online health information resource,Healthline:

Reclining Pigeon Pose

  • This yoga pose begins on the floor, flat on your back.
  • Raise one leg, grab behind the knee with both hands and rotate so that your ankle crosses over your body.
  • Then raise your other leg until its knee touches the ankle of the leg first raised.
  • Hold pose for a 10-30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and perform stretch.

Sitting Pigeon Pose

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight before you.
  • Bend one leg, placing its ankle upon the knee of the other leg that is outstretched.
  • Lean your upper body forward.
  • Hold for 10-30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and perform pose.

Knee to Shoulder Crossover

  • Lay on your back on the floor.
  • Draw one knee toward you and grasp with both hands.
  • Draw the knee across your body, gently pulling upwards toward the opposite shoulder.
  • Hold for 10-30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and perform stretch.

Hamstring Stretch

  • Stand and elevate one foot.
  • Keeping both legs as straight as possible without hyper-extending knees, lean forward.
  • Hold for 10-30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and perform stretch.

Physical Therapy

Daily stretching is a great way to help yourself but often patients with sciatic nerve pain need the help of medial professionals. Qualified physical therapists offer sciatica sufferers the opportunity to treat their condition naturally with an individualized approach that meets their specific needs.

Spine health experts recommend physical therapy as an effective treatment for sciatica. Studies have shown that the right therapeutic exercises can strengthen the muscles of the back that serve to support the spine. Stretching exercises create more spine flexibility which helps alleviate inflammation of lower back muscles, thus alleviating sciatic nerve inflammation.

Although it may be tempting to self-diagnose and self-treat, this can often do more harm than good. It is not uncommon for a person tomisdiagnose themselves. Sciatica is a symptom of an underlying condition. It is not enough just to treat the symptom. For optimum results the patient needs to know why the sciatic nerve pain is presenting itself. The cause determines the treatment approach. A self-diagnosis that is erroneous, only treating the symptom, could result in an individual selecting a course of self-treatment that may actually exacerbate the underlying cause. Always trust your spinal health to qualified medical professionals who specialize in the latest methods and treatment procedures of sciatica.

More Than Just Sciatica

In addition to a condition causing sciatic nerve pain, other complications often develop as a result of the pain. One way the human body responds to pain is by tightening muscles. This may become such a frequent reaction that a chronic pain sufferer may not even realize that they are perpetually in a state of muscle tension. This can happen as a flinching reaction to pain or the body trying to compensate for weakness by overusing other muscle groups. What develops is muscle knots and associated pain in addition to the original sciatic nerve pain condition. A skilled physical therapist will be able to differentiate between the different types of pain your are experiencing and apply effective treatments that addresses each cause.

Professional Treatment

Physical therapists and orthopedic specialists evaluate a patient’s condition and prescribe a treatment schedule designed specifically for their needs. By outlining a treatment schedule, patients not only know what to expect but they can better gauge their progress. In order to get the best results in rehabilitative treatment, it is important to have your care managed by experts who have the knowledge and experience that is key to success.

In addition to the most innovative treatments and therapies, a qualified professional can also be the best resource for information regarding your condition. By better understanding your own body and the causes of pain you are experiencing, individuals will experience better results and overall success in the treatment and management of their chronic pain.

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