When it comes to addressing sciatica with physiotherapy, one of the biggest things we talk about with our patients is that our job isn’t just about addressing pain, but also understanding where it’s coming from.
With sciatica, there can be a lot of different referred pain that happens, whether it’s throughout the hip area or down the leg, and there can also be numbness involved, so we want to make sure we look at both what’s causing your symptoms and how they developed over time.
Some of the most common contributing factors to sciatica we see at our physiotherapy clinic are:
Core strength: When there’s a lack of strength or coordination of our abdominal and core muscles, we move in a way that puts more stress on the nerves that come off our back. Increasing the ability to engage and strengthen those muscles can go a long way in preventing and managing sciatica.
Hip function: When there’s a loss of hip range of motion, strength, or other coordinated movements that help us do things like bend, lift or be active, this can have a big impact on the presentation of sciatica, so is often an area we’ll focus on.
General lower body flexibility: When you put stress on one thing repeatedly all the time, it puts more stress on regions, usually the lower back, that increase the likelihood sciatica symptoms will arise. By improving your mobility in your lower body, you give your body more freedom in terms of ways to move.
Other factors: Things like old traumas or injuries, previous surgeries, long-standing injuries, or even something like an old ankle fracture that puts stress on the hip or back, are all factors we consider.
First: working to get you out of this acute phase of pain
We use neurofunctional acupuncture and different acupuncture techniques, with the goal of both calming your nervous system to reduce the sensation of pain, as well as activating the muscles that are designed to protect the area. We also use manual therapy to work on areas of tightness and to improve your range of motion.
Next, we’ll advise you on specific things you should and shouldn’t do, and ways to make everyday activities more comfortable, whether it’s physical activity, sleeping positions, or sitting at a desk. Finally, we’ll work with you on a series of exercises with the goal of trying to give you the foundation to get moving in the long term.
Next: treating sciatica’s contributing factors
Once you’re starting to feel better, we’ll focus on things like improving core strength, working on flexibility of the hips and the lower body, and working on activating areas like the glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Ultimately, our goal is to improve what we refer to as “movement patterning”—your body’s ability to move smoothly and efficiently.
We call this improving your movement patterning.
One of the techniques we use is RedCord, an innovative treatment system where cables suspended from the ceiling offload a portion of your body weight, allowing our therapists to re-train your movement patterns specifically. Learn more about it here!
The last step: prevention
Our aim isn’t just to get you out of pain, but to keep you out of pain, ensuring your treatments actually last and your symptoms don’t return. A lot of injury prevention is about learning how you can move safer, lift things better, work on running mechanics, squatting or lifting mechanics, or learning about ergonomics. Elements like this are key in both helping prevent pain and improving your overall strength, so as part of your treatment we’ll advise you in this area.
Looking for a physiotherapy clinic in Toronto? Contact us at Endeavour to learn more and book your treatment.