Sciatica is a very common condition that affects 10% of the population. However, many more people suffer with sciatica like symptoms from low back pain to numbness in the leg. These symptoms can be signs of other back problems such as mechanical low back pain or even herniated discs.
How do you know if you have sciatica?
- Tenderness to the deep gluteus muscles
- Numbness, tingling or pain that travels broadly down the thigh
- Constant pain that may originate in the low back, but travels mainly down the back of the buttock and thigh
- Pain that feels better when lying down or walking, but worsens with sitting
- Get properly diagnosed by a physical therapist. Other low back conditions can present as sciatica symptoms and it is important to determine the exact origins of your symptoms. Seeing a physical therapist sooner, rather than later means faster recovery and less potential for damage that can occur to the spinal joints and nerves.
- Alternate heat and ice to the low back and buttock area. Ice helps to relieve inflammation, while heat helps relax muscles and improve blood flow. Try 10 minutes on, 30 minutes off when alternating. Make sure to check your skin frequently to prevent injury. Speak with one of our specialists if you have questions on what will work best for you.
- Position yourself to relax your piriformis muscle. A simple position to relieve pressure on the piriformis muscle is to lie face down with a pillow under your hips. Slowly bend your affected leg up as far as you can comfortably to the side in a figure 4 position. Your knee should be ideally level with your hip or pelvis. Hold this position for 2 minutes, and then slowly bring your leg down, keeping your muscles as relaxed as possible. Repeat frequently throughout the day.
- Stretch your hips, back and legs. Do exercises to gently stretch your low back, open your hips and stretch your hamstrings. Speak to one of our specialists if you have questions on which exercises you should do.
While sciatica can literally be a pain in the backside, it doesn’t have to stay with you. Simple strategies and seeing the right physical therapist early can make a big difference in quickly healing and returning to the pain free activities you love.