What is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to the radiating pain emanating from the lower back and down each leg extending to the foot. It is caused by irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the human body. The pain causes difficulty in movement and compromises the flexibility and agility of individuals. Sciatica usually affects one side of the body and causes weakness in the muscles of the affected leg.
Causes and Symptoms
The major causes of sciatica include injuries, herniated discs, irritation of the nerve by muscles or an adjacent bone, tumours, infections in and around the lumbar spine, spinal stenosis, misalignment of the hip, internal bleeding among other causes. It may also be experienced by women at the time of pregnancy, due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve causing episodes of cramps and excessive pain.
The symptoms include a burning sensation on the areas surrounding the nerve, pain radiating from the lower back and upper buttock, severe hip pain or a feeling of numbness in the affected leg. The major areas where the pain may be experienced include the lumbar region, the hip and buttock region and the course of the nerve in the affected leg. Sciatica can make simple tasks like walking, a difficult feat to accomplish. And the cramping sensation can aggravate while performing actions like bending or lifting.
Relief for sciatica
Physical therapy helps to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve and significantly improve the condition of those affected by sciatica. Treatment includes both active and passive methodologies for the patients. During the passive treatment; the therapists help to relax the body and relieve the excessive pressure felt by patients. Further, it helps to prepare the body for therapeutic exercise.
The active treatment for sciatica includes exercises which focus on strengthening, stretching, and aerobic conditioning.
The aim of strengthening exercises are to ensure that the spinal column, muscles and ligaments and strong and less prone to damage. They focus on the lower back, abdominal, gluteus and hip muscles. The objective is to provide pain relief, achieve better alignment, prevent injuries and ensure that, the movements which stretch or twist the spine cause no damage to the individual.
Stretching exercises are recommended to alleviate the sciatic pain and remove the stiffness experienced by muscles in the affected area. Stretching is focused on the hamstring area, arms and leg extensions etc. This helps to restore and preserve the ease in movement.
Make these exercises a part of your daily routine to increase flexibility and prevent conditions like sciatica from re appearing. Care should be taken to avoid strenuous activities which involve excessive bending, lifting of heavy objects or sudden movements, as it worsens the condition. Incorporating physical therapy into your fitness regime can help to improve posture and alleviate the painful symptoms of sciatica. It also helps to prevent any further occurrence or damage in the future.