Beginning in the low back, bifurcating at the hips, and running down the length of the leg, the sciatic nerve is the longest in the human body. Injury to or irritation of the sciatic nerve can lead to characteristic pain and symptoms of sciatica. Physical therapists in Austin, Texas, treat people with sciatica all the time. It is very common, and physical therapy can be effective at treating it.
Lessen Your Back Pain
Sciatica commonly occurs when something compresses the nerve, preventing signals from traveling between the brain and the legs. Most often, the compression is due to a herniated disk or bone spurs resulting from osteoarthritis. Less often, the problem is a tumor pressing on the sciatic nerve. Another possible cause of sciatica is an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes, that causes nerve damage. Hormonal changes in the body may cause sciatica during pregnancy.
Sciatica can range from mild to severe. Because it has different causes, the quality of the discomfort can vary as well. The best physical therapy clinics near San Antonio hear from some patients that their sciatica feels like a burning or stabbing sensation, while others describe it as an electrical shock. Some patients experience a sensation of pins and needles, while others have complete numbness in the lower extremity. Sciatica can contribute to cauda equina syndrome, which can cause you to lose control of your bowel or bladder.
Sciatica can cause different sensations at various points along the nerve path. For example, a patient may experience pain in one part of the leg and numbness in another part of the affected limb. Some patients report that the pain radiates from the lower back down into the leg. The one thing that is fairly consistent is that sciatica almost always affects one leg at a time. Bilateral sciatica is possible but very rare.
Regain Some of the Flexibility Lost
The pain of sciatica can cause you to lose range of motion in your back and lower extremities. You may not be able to bend over or lean your torso from side to side. As a result of the pain, you may not feel able to engage in physical activity the way you used to.
A lack of physical activity can cause muscles to weaken and atrophy which, ironically, can make sciatica pain worse. Physical therapists in New Braunfels, TX, can help you break out of this vicious cycle by teaching you exercises that can help to strengthen the core muscles of your low back and abdomen so that you are better able to carry yourself. Stronger muscles support your low back more effectively, which can help to relieve pressure on your sciatic nerve. As a result, you may have less sciatic pain, making it easier for you to perform exercises that your therapist can teach you to regain range of motion and flexibility. Being more flexible can help you to prevent future injuries, not only to your sciatic nerve but throughout your body.
If your sciatica is severe or doesn’t go away on its own, call a physical therapist in Texas for an evaluation. You do not need a referral from a doctor to see a physical therapist.