Sciatica – A Pain in the Butt!


sciaticaYou have probably heard of sciatica and maybe you have experience with it yourself. Sciatica is a term that can describe pain that radiates down the leg, but there can actually be a lot of different causes. Physical therapists need to do a little detective work to figure out where and what is causing your sciatica. Sciatica refers to the irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body.  Nerves in the lower spine called the lumbosacral plexus form the sciatic nerve. It has a mix of sensory and motor fibers that supply most of the areas of the thigh, leg, and foot.

What are the Causes of Sciatica?

  • Joint inflammation or nerve irritation
  • Piriformis or pelvic floor tightness
  • Disc herniation
  • Spinal stenosis

What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

  • Pain that originates deep in the gluteal region and sends pain down the back of your leg and even down into your foot
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations and feelings of weakness of muscles in your leg

How do I Manage Sciatic Pain?

See a physical therapist! Not only will a PT help differentiate where the pain is originating from, but they will also create an individual plan for how to manage your symptoms. Medical management may be warranted as an adjunct to physical therapy. First things first. Exercise is essential for managing sciatica, and bed rest is NOT recommended.

Goals for Sciatica

  • Keep moving. Exercise is key. Motion is lotion for our bodies! Try not to be fearful of movements that will help in your recovery
  • Reduce nerve irritation. Depending on where the pain is coming from, we want to target that area to reduce inflammation and irritation. This may take time, so be as patient as you can! Reducing inflammation and pain is the priority.
  • Centralize symptoms. This means your symptoms are moving up closer to your spine, moving away from your leg. This is a good sign your body is healing and adapting!

Sciatica is very complex, but with an individualized plan, your physical therapist can help reduce pain, get you moving better, and get you back to doing the things you love to do! Call MOSAIC at (406) 388-4988 to schedule your evaluation today.