Cory Henry, PT, DPT
Clinic Manager – Troy, IL
Are you currently suffering or have you suffered from pain or numbness that shoots down your leg? You may be among the approximately 40% of people that are dealing with sciatica.
Sciatica can be best defined as pain, inflammation, and/or numbness along the sciatic nerve, which travels down the length of the leg. It is the largest and longest nerve in the body, therefore the sciatic nerve is commonly a source of pain and impairment. The nerve originates as a network of nerves in the lumbosacral area of the spinal cord and travels down through the pelvis into the back of the leg and foot while it supplies movement and sensation throughout the leg. Sciatica can be caused by any form of pressure and/or inflammation on the nerve roots which make up the sciatic nerve, but commonly include herniated disc in lumbar spine, spinal stenosis, muscle tightness, among others. Although symptoms are felt in the lower extremities, the origin and cause of the pain is located in the lower back the majority of the time.
Imaging tests such as Xrays, MRIs can help to diagnose the source of the pain, along with physical presentation and screening. Treatment options consist of ways to reduce inflammation and pressure on the sciatic nerve along with associated impairments to restore normal function of the tissue. There are many treatment options available for sciatica including pain and analgesia medication, steroid injections, traction, spinal manipulation, surgery, and physical therapy.
Physical therapy is a great conservative treatment option for patients that want to avoid the use of pain medications, injections, surgery or other non-conservative treatments. Physical therapy treatment options include stretching, strengthening, range of motion exercises, aerobic conditioning, soft tissue mobilization, modalities, and many more. As sciatica becomes more chronic and recurrent, treatment is less effective, therefore it is important to initiate treatment quickly after the onset of symptoms for the most effective response.
If you have been diagnosed with or suffer from symptoms of sciatica, contact your local ApexNetwork Physical Therapy clinic to schedule an appointment.