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Managing Sciatica Pain with Physiotherapy

Written by
Nakiwade Omprakash Rohidas
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Dec 14, 2017 and last reviewed on Jul 10, 2021   -  5 min read


Sciatica is a combination of symptoms caused by the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, described as a shooting pain starting from the lower back and extending down towards the back of each leg. Various conditions can cause this pain. The pain of sciatica is quite distressing, often making it difficult for people to sit, stand, or walk. This article talks about the different causes of pain in the area and how to manage them.

Managing Sciatica Pain with Physiotherapy

Sciatica pain is a pain felt near the area of distribution of the sciatic nerve (that is, around the buttocks, the posterior thigh, the posterior lower leg, and also the feet) as a result of continuous irritation of the nerve. It is not a specific condition. Various factors can cause pain around the region of the sciatic nerve.

What Causes Sciatica?

In youth, sciatica pain is commonly due to damage to the spinal disc leading to swelling around the sciatic nerve. Occasionally, it might be caused by pressure coming from a prolapsed or slipped disc. In older adults, sciatic nerve pain may be due to compression of the sciatic nerve by ligaments or bones. There are several other causes of sciatica pain, such as prolonged sitting at the desk, pregnancy, dehydration, spinal degeneration, and so on. More common causes of sciatica pain include herniated disc, lumbar spinal stenosis, and piriformis syndrome. Whenever you experience sciatica pain symptoms, your physician must evaluate them to determine the cause.

What Causes Sciatica During Pregnancy?

It is unlikely for a pregnancy to be the cause of sciatica. Pregnancy-related changes can give you pelvic aches and back discomfort, although not sciatica pain. Sciatica pain is not caused by your baby pressing on a nerve. A majority of women who believe they may have sciatica pain in pregnancy, in reality, have pelvic girdle pain (PGP).

How Is Sciatica Diagnosed?

Sciatica pain is diagnosed through imaging with a CT (computerized tomography) scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Another variation of MRI, known as MR neurography, may help diagnose piriformis syndrome, which is another cause of sciatica not involving disc herniation.

How Is Sciatica Treated?

The doctor may suggest you visit a physiotherapist who is experienced in pain-relief exercises. If your back is stiff, your physiotherapist may use manual therapy and, in some cases, manipulation. Specific postures of Yoga can provide beneficial results to patients with sciatica as well. The different poses help relieve the pain and maintain the shape of your body and the tone of your muscles. Sometimes, it may be accompanied by a tingling or a burning sensation passing down the leg. The pain may be constant or an intermittent one which varies in intensity from mild to severe. Exercise is an efficient way to overcome the agony caused by sciatica pain.

In treating sciatica, physical therapy may:

Several health professionals will provide medical care and treatment for the radiating lower back pain, including physical therapists, chiropractors, physiatrists, and certified athletic trainers. Physical therapists are specially trained in providing manual therapy, exercise programs, and rehabilitation for radiating lower back pain.

Physical therapy and exercise will help to strengthen and mobilize the tissues in the lower back pelvis region, buttocks, abdomen, and thighs.

The primary goal of physiotherapy in the treatment of sciatica are to:

Commitment and regularity are the essential attributes for a successful treatment outcome while using physical therapy and exercise for sciatica. Physical therapy can be combined with the use of pain-relieving medications, like over-the-counter (OTC), prescription medications, or epidural steroid injections.

Physical Therapy and Exercise Procedures for Treating Sciatica:

A physical therapist may suggest various physical, manual, and soft tissue mobilization therapies in sciatica treatment. Specific exercises always depend on sciatica's underlying etiology and other factors, such as the patient's pain level, overall conditioning, and the physical therapist's training and experience.

The standard techniques used in the treatment of sciatica are:

The therapist might use one or more of the techniques to treat sciatica pain. If a particular exercise or therapy causes any pain or discomfort, it should be informed to the therapist immediately.

For more information, consult a specialist online at

Last reviewed at:
10 Jul 2021  -  5 min read




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