Physical therapy for sciatica is one of the most common and popular conservative medical treatment options. Physical therapy consists of exercises and stretches which help to restore function and increase mobility and strength. While physical therapy is crucial for many patients who are recovering from injury or surgery, it is generally not known to produce good results as a stand alone treatment for chronic sciatica.
This article will examine how physical therapy can be utilized in sciatica patients, as well as the many limitations of conservative care for some diagnosed conditions.
Sciatica patients who employ physical therapy as part of a combined care approach often enjoy temporary pain relieving benefits. This is not because the therapy is so successful in dealing with sciatic nerve pain, but more often due to the misdiagnosis of the actual underlying symptomatic complaint.
Most sciatica is blamed on a herniated disc or spinal osteoarthritis process, which makes it very unclear how physical therapy is supposed to relieve the pain. Exercise therapy will surely not do anything to change the spinal anatomy, heal a herniation or eliminate osteophyte growth.
However, being that some forms of sciatica are caused by ischemia, rather than a spinal abnormality, physical therapy suddenly becomes a far more sensible consideration, since it raises the amount of oxygen in the blood. This increased circulation temporarily staves off the effects of oxygen deprivation sciatica, providing the short term relief most patients report from a physical therapy session.
Physical therapy can also be a great method of care for patients with piriformis syndrome and localized pseudo-sciatica pain due to muscular imbalances and other soft tissue pathologies.
Many patients who have been functionally limited for an extended time, really come to depend on their trusted physical therapist. It is obvious that the relationship between therapist and patient is at least as important as the treatment itself. Ongoing physical therapy is cost prohibitive and most patients will stay in a program for a matter of weeks. If results are not up to expectations, patients are commonly referred to more drastic methods of care.
It is common for a surgical recommendation to be made if sciatica pain continues despite several attempted, but unsuccessful treatment options. If surgery is performed, the patient will end up right back in physical therapy to start the entire healing and rehabilitation processes all over again. Hopefully, the procedure will provide some benefit and end the cycle of treatment, allowing the patient to finally return to a normal and active life without the burden of chronic pain.
Physical therapy is certainly a vital part of the spine care industry and a valuable component of any rehabilitation program. Physical therapy is generally not a sciatica cure, but often gives a clue to many misdiagnosed pain syndromes.
Remember, if you have been diagnosed with a spinal explanation for your pain and receive considerable relief from physical therapy sessions, there is a good chance that your sciatica has been misdiagnosed. The most common form of chronic sciatica, which responds well to PT, is certainly the ischemic variety and this is ironically also the least often correctly diagnosed. Exercise therapy directly counters the effects of oxygen deprivation, explaining the temporary relief. Unfortunately, within hours, the circulation decreases once again and symptoms return. If this represents your back pain experience, you should consider the idea that your pain, like many others, is actually the result of common ischemia.
To learn more about physical therapy for any lower back, buttocks, leg or foot pain syndrome, talk to a qualified care provider near you. Physical therapists are true healers, using actual hands-on work which is so rare in the modern medical sector. I have nothing but respect for their work.