Sciatica Pain and How Physical Therapy Can Help Eliminate The Pain

sciatic nerve pain and treatments

Sciatica Pain and How Physical Therapy Can Help Eliminate The Pain

Sciatic Nerve Pain and Physical Therapy

Sciatic nerve pain can be the result of numerous different issues involving the back. Some of the most common causes of sciatica include herniated or bulging disks, overgrowth of bone on the vertebrae, narrowing of the spinal canal, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, pregnancy, tumors, and diabetes. Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal, normally occurs because of aging. With lumbar spinal stenosis, the spinal canal ends up narrowing to the point where it compresses the nerves in the lumbar spine.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease also occurs with age and usually happens when the discs of the spinal column wear out and lose their cushioning ability. Discs act like shock absorbers between the bones in the spine and can start to break down and lose their flexibility as time progresses. Spinal discs can also fluid-containing and can lose a lot of their fluid with time and age. Degenerative disc disease can also be caused by trauma or injury. Cracks and tears in the outer walls of the vertebrae have an impact on the nerves that run through the spinal column, having an affect on their functionality. Degenerative disc disease can cause sciatic nerve pain because this spinal deterioration can lead to disc herniation. Disc herniation, also known as a ruptured disc, occurs when the spongy, fluid vertebral discs begin to become compressed and bulge through the vertebrae. This often leads to damage of the surrounding nerves, including the sciatic nerve.

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is another condition that can lead to sciatic nerve pain. It occurs when one or both wings of the vertebrae become defective, causing the vertebrae to slip in and out in between the discs. The vertebrae may become defective either through injury or by infection or disease. Many of the symptoms of spondylolisthesis mirror those of sciatic nerve pain, such as pain in the buttocks and lumbar spine, muscle tightness, and pain that radiates down the legs. Spondylolisthesis can be treated with muscle strengthening through physical therapy, or via surgical intervention in some cases. Spondylolisthesis causes sciatic nerve pain because this condition puts a lot of pressure on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerves originates in the lumbar spine and as vertebrae move out of alignment as they do with spondylolisthesis, the sciatic nerve root can become compressed.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can also be a major cause of sciatic nerve pain. Fortunately, it is usually temporary, but the primary causes of sciatic pain during pregnancy are weight gain, the expanding uterus, and the stretching and moving forward of the lordotic curve. Increased fluid retention and weight gain compress and put pressure on the sciatic nerve where it runs right through the pelvis. The rapidly-growing uterus can also press on the lower spine as it continues to grow. The are just above the buttocks, known as the lordotic curve can become stretched out as the pregnant belly and breasts continue to grow and shift the center of gravity forward. This can cause the muscles in that region to tighten and pinch the sciatic nerve. The babies head can also put pressure on the sciatic nerve as it moves into position for birth later in the third trimester.

Tumors

Certain tumors that place pressure on the spine can also cause sciatic nerve pain.
Neurofibromas, tumors that grow right on top of nerve tissue, are often not cancerous. They are often caused by genetic mutations and can be seen upon examination as a bundled mass on the spinal cord. If the tumor is causing severe impairment or problems, surgical intervention can be discussed as an option. However, due to the complexity of tumor removal, surgery is not often discussed as an option unless the patient is experiencing severely debilitating symptoms.

Diabetes

Diabetes patients can also suffer chronically from sciatic nerve pain. Sciatic-pain.org notes that diabetics are more prone to development of sciatic nerve pain due to the fact that excessive glucose levels in the body will attack the structural integrity of nerve fibers. This causes diabetics to often not feel pain associated with sciatica, but rather they will often experience numbness and tingling with occasional weakness in the lower extremities. It has been noted in diabetics that this sensation often has a slower onset, and it is much better than the experience of diabetic neuropathy.

So what is it like to live with sciatic nerve pain? Sciatic nerve pain can range anywhere from mildly uncomfortable to tortuous. Patients with mild sciatic pain usually have symptoms that come and go and do not seem to last for long periods of time. Patients with moderate symptoms have episodes more frequently and have agonizing acute sciatic nerve pain. Those with chronic sciatic nerve pain suffer from function restriction and usually endure a tremendous amount of suffering. The prognosis for severe sciatic pain relief is not good. The nature of sciatic nerve pain is mysterious, but it has been proven the physical therapy can help eliminate a lot of sciatic nerve pain.

Sciatic Nerve Treatments

There are numerous treatment measures that sciatic pain sufferers can undergo for alleviation of symptoms. Spine-health states that general stretching exercises for sciatic pain relief include piriformis muscle stretches, lower back stretches, hamstring stretches, and core strengthening. Piriformis muscle stretches help with hip flexibility and stability. Strengthening the piriformis muscles keeps the hip rotators flexible, and also keeps the hip and knees joints properly aligned. Proper alignment of the joints helps eliminate sciatic nerve pain as it ensures that none of the nerves are becoming compressed. Physical therapy treatments can be extremely beneficial for people who have occasional episodes of sciatic nerve pain, as well as those who require more invasive treatments. You can also get advice on at-home physical therapy treatments through Advance Physical Therapy’s blog website.

There are varieties of treatment for sciatica, such as a laminotomy, foraminotomy, or a discectomy. Treatment for sciatica can be risky and invasive due to many of the treatment options involving surgical intervention. During a laminotomy, a small surgical window is created within the lamina for the purpose of removing any bone or disc materials that are pressing against the spinal cord. A portion of spinal tissue is removed during a foraminotomy to allow for repair of a pinched nerve. The foramina are the small openings found on each vertebrae and a common place for spinal nerves to become pinched. Discectomies, the third surgical option, allow for the removal of spinal disc material that may be compressing a nerve. You can also find examples of different exercise treatments at the website for Advance Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation.

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