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3 Signs You Need To See A Physical Therapist For Sciatica Pain

Your sciatic nerves run down each leg from either side of your lower back. As a result, shooting pain on one side is a characteristic indicator of sciatica. Experiencing compression of one of your sciatic nerves can be excruciating, and while it may not always require medical intervention, seeking physical therapy from a trusted practice like Alkemē Sports Rx is often your best bet to banish sciatica symptoms.

How can you tell when to handle it alone and when to call a physical therapist? The guidelines below explain sciatica and how Alkemē Sports Rx's physical therapy can help you find relief.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, is a condition that occurs when a nerve in your lower back is injured, pinched, or compressed, causing pain or other symptoms that can extend from the lower back to the hip, leg, or foot. It can be caused by sudden trauma or by long-term stress affecting structures in the back. It most often affects people aged 30 to 50 years. Risk factors for sciatica include repeated lifting, participating in weight-bearing sports, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyles, and poor posture.

Most sciatica cases recover without surgery and respond well to physical therapy. Physical therapists design individualized treatment programs to help reduce pain, regain normal movement, and return to normal activities. To learn more about recognizing when your sciatica requires physical therapy intervention, continue reading below.

How Can I Know If Therapeutic Intervention Is Necessary?

1. When The Pain Is A Response To An Injury

Mild sciatica can develop over time and may go away on its own. However, if you experience sciatica symptoms after a vehicle accident, a significant fall, or a sports injury, you should see a doctor and a physical therapist. Due to its considerable impact on the surrounding area of the sciatic nerve, the symptoms are more likely to be severe. It's critical to assess the extent of nerve injury. Your medical team must determine whether surgery, steroid injections, or prescription medicines are necessary.

Physical therapy is generally advised as part of the healing strategy, even if your condition requires more intensive treatment. Our skilled physical therapists at Alkemē Sports Rx can aid your post-surgery recovery, optimize the effectiveness of your injections and sciatica medication, and provide invaluable support for individuals dealing with chronic or severe sciatica. You'll learn specific exercises to strengthen your lower back. Muscles that support the area around your sciatic nerve can help prevent problems in the future. Alkemē Sports Rx's physical therapy also focuses on posture correction and enhancing range of motion to alleviate and prevent sciatica symptoms.

2. Your Symptoms Are Becoming Severe, Or Even Debilitating

If your sciatic nerve becomes seriously compressed, the resulting symptoms can go from uncomfortable to quite painful – and even embarrassing. One side of your body may feel weak and numb. Even getting your leg or foot to move gets tricky at times. If the pain comes on abruptly and with a lot of force, it's time to see a physical therapist to start getting some relief.

Another telltale sign? The sciatic nerve can become compressed in the area that controls the bladder and/or bowel function. If you lose control of either or both of these functions, you’ll want to get professional help. Visit a doctor to rule out other problems. They will likely run tests and refer you to a physical therapist.

3. Nothing You Do Makes The Pain Subside

There are several things you can do at home to alleviate a minor sciatica flare-up. A classic treatment for sciatica symptoms is to alternate between cold and heat. For each application, apply an ice pack followed by a heating pad for around 15 minutes.

A pillow between your knees while sleeping can also assist. Try a reclining chair to relieve pressure on your lower back if you feel uncomfortable throughout the day or at night. Walking can help relieve sciatica pain, and “babying” your condition can potentially make it worse.

Although these approaches may relieve mild sciatica, opting for a physical therapy session from a trusted practice like Alkemē Sports Rx can often be a more effective strategy. If your at-home treatments yield minimal progress in alleviating pain and improving mobility, it may be time to seek guidance from a medical professional. Additionally, persistent symptoms lasting a week or more, along with escalating pain severity, are key indicators that warrant pursuing physical therapy.

Call our clinic for help today

There’s no reason to continue living in pain now that you know that a physical therapist can alleviate your pain. Contact Alkemē Sports Rx today to speak with an experienced physical therapist about how to manage – and even banish – painful sciatica flare-ups.

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