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Sciatica Specialist

Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Center

Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation located in Greenbelt, MD & Olney, MD

At least 40% of adults have one bout of sciatica in their lifetime. For many, the problem persists, and they end up with chronic and debilitating back and leg pain. The skilled team at Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Center has extensive experience developing physical therapy plans that ease your pain, strengthen your back, and give you the ability to enjoy your activities. If you need exceptional care for sciatica, call the office in Greenbelt, Olney, Bowie, Riverdale, Glen Burnie, Laurel, or Silver Spring, Maryland, or book an appointment online today. Same-day and next-day appointments are available.

Sciatica Q & A

What is sciatica?

Sciatica refers to a specific group of symptoms that occur when you have a pinched sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve leaves your lower spine, splits, and goes down each side of your body. It passes through your buttocks, travels along the back of your legs, and goes down to your feet.

With sciatic nerve compression, you experience lower back pain together with sciatica’s hallmark symptom: pain shooting down one leg.

What causes sciatica?

Some people develop sciatica after straining a lower back muscle or suffering a lower back injury. But the painful problem is most often caused by degenerative changes in the spine that pinch the nerve, including:

  • Herniated discs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Facet joint arthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Bone spurs

Though not common, muscles in your buttocks can compress the sciatic nerve. When that happens, you have similar symptoms, but the condition is called piriformis syndrome rather than sciatica.

What other symptoms accompany sciatica?

Most people describe the sudden leg pain as a severe and disabling jolt of pain. You may also experience other sensations in the affected leg, such as burning or tingling. In extreme cases, your leg may turn numb, and your muscles could weaken.

For some patients, the pain improves in a few weeks. Others develop chronic (long-lasting) pain that gets worse over time.

How is sciatica treated?

After self-care and pain-relieving medications, physical therapy is the first line of treatment for sciatica. Your therapist designs an individualized plan that includes the treatments you receive in the office, as well as exercises you can do at home to strengthen your core muscles, ease the pain, and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Prolonged rest and sitting are nearly guaranteed to make your sciatica worse. That’s why your physical therapist gives you an appropriate exercise program that helps you stay active without putting too much stress on your lower back.

During physical therapy sessions, you may receive modalities such as:

  • Strength and flexibility training
  • Pain management
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Passive and active exercise
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Moist heat and ice
  • Manual stretching
  • Myofascial release
  • Joint mobilization
  • Traction
  • Posture training

Your therapist may also teach you the proper technique for bending and lifting, as well as other skills that limit the stress on your lower back.

If you struggle with lower back and shooting leg pain, call Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Center or book an appointment online today.