Hydrotherapy for sciatica describes an assortment of varied treatment modalities that can be utilized to relieve the symptomatic expressions of sciatic nerve pain and pseudo-sciatica. Although there are many approaches to care, water is the common element that provides the primary therapeutic effect.
Water therapy is used throughout the back and neck pain sector of medicine for providing pain relief, improving circulation, imparting anti-inflammatory effects, as well as facilitating exercise, rehabilitation and relaxation to patients with a diversity of diagnoses. Although water therapy can not, and will not, act on the internal workings of the spine, it can still be a valuable part of a combined care treatment plan for sciatica sufferers.
This commentary details many of the most useful hydrotherapy techniques, as well as other forms of water-based treatment, such as aqua-therapy.
The following methods of care can be used to impart the healing ability of water to patients with lower back and leg pain. While these therapies are all symptomatic, most are well known to provide numerous beneficial effects, without any risks whatsoever:
Hot tubs and cool tubs can provide soothing relaxation of soft tissues and might be particularly effective for treating muscular forms of pseudo-sciatica, such as piriformis syndrome.
Ice baths can have virtually immediate anti-inflammatory effects. Ice might also help to provide analgesia for patients with all manner of sciatic nerve pain problems.
Pressurized water sources, such as Jacuzzi tubs, can be used to provide soothing or invigorating massage. Best of all, the patient can apply the jet to whatever part of their anatomy that they choose for maximum enjoyment.
Swimming for sciatica is a great form of exercise that can provide many tangible health effects besides enacting marked pain relief. Swimming is one of the best all-around forms of physical activity for the entire body.
Aquatherapy consists of physical therapy activities that are performed in or under the water in heated pools. The use of water makes PT possible for many patients who would otherwise be contraindicated, due to the pain elicited by strenuous exertion. In the water, gravity and impact are minimized, helping patients to move freely and fearlessly for optimal benefit.
Simply taking a nice bath or shower can provide pain relief for many patients. Hydrotherapy does not have to be provided professionally in order for it to be highly effective.
Hydrotherapy is an interesting choice of treatment for virtually any diagnosed sciatica causation. This is because one would logically think that external water application would have basically no effect on pain syndromes that are sourced from radicular or sciatic nerve compression. After all, how can water help counteract an impingement process that is occurring deeply inside the body?
Logic aside, statistics show that many forms of hydrotherapy are cited as being some of the most effectual and preferred treatments for patients with numerous dorsalgia diagnoses. Patients claim pain relief, enhanced physical functionality, relaxation and improved mental state for hours after each treatment session.
These reports clearly demonstrate the power of water to heal many ills. More importantly, since most water therapies act more on the psychoemotional state of the patient, than the anatomy, it is wise to consider the often overlooked conclusion that many chronic pain syndromes are actually caused by mindbody interactions, regardless of what coincidental bodily abnormality they might have been blamed upon. Even in cases where the diagnosis is perfectly sound and correct, the efficacy of water therapies still shows how powerful the mind can be in relieving discomfort, when the emotional state of the patient is elevated.
The absolute best part of any water therapy program is the fact that it may allow patients to avoid pharmaceutical-based treatments, epidural injections and even surgery. Hydrotherapy application for sciatica is all upside, with no real downside. Better still, patients can seek out treatment on their own and self-provide many effective forms of soothing care for virtually no cost at all.
We are never surprised by the large number of patients who write to us reporting their positive experiences using all manner of water-based treatments. This is because we have shared these very same benefits and universally recommend hydrotherapy as an ideal alternative form of pain management.
Personally, I use water therapy daily to manage my pain and keep myself healthy and emotionally serene. I do my best thinking while bathing and find that a nice, long, hot shower is great to relax the body morning and evening.
I swim every day, typically for about three quarters of a mile each session. I attest to the effectiveness of swimming for helping me to manage my pain year in and year out. Without the pool, I can’t imagine life. It has been my savior. As a fringe benefit, despite being in my mid forties, I still wear the same clothes size as I did in my early high school years. Swimming keeps my 6’2” frame lanky and lean at about 155 pounds.
My sciatica has benefited from swimming more than any of my other symptoms. In fact, I no longer suffer daily leg or foot pain, but only occasional flare-ups, while the lower back and neck remain constant challenges.