The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. It starts in your low back, splits at the level of your hips and buttocks, and runs down each of your legs to the foot. Sensations of pain and discomfort related to sciatic nerve pathology are called sciatica. Physical therapy Fayetteville NC may be an effective treatment option for your sciatica pain.

Why Sciatica Happens

The most common cause of sciatica is pressure on the nerve. Often, this occurs because a herniated disk is pressing on your sciatic nerve roots as they exit the spinal cord. Intervertebral disks are flexible structures made of cartilage. They are found between the bones of your spine and cushion the vertebrae from impact. The outer layer of each disk is tough and fibrous, a bit like hard rubber. The inner layer is soft and jelly-like. A rupture in the outer layer can allow the inner layer to leak out, which is caused herniation. If enough herniated material builds up, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve roots.

Inflammation from arthritis can cause excessive bone growth of the vertebrae. Areas of excess growth of spinal bone are called osteophytes or bone spurs. Whatever you call them, they can cause sciatica by putting pressure on nerve roots.

Rarely, sciatica occurs because of a tumor pushing on the nerve roots as it grows. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can also damage the nerve itself, resulting in sciatica pain. In many cases, Sanford physical therapy is an effective treatment for sciatica.

How Sciatica Can Be Disabling

Sciatica causes pain in the hip or buttocks that can extend down the leg along the length of the nerve. It usually occurs on only one side. The pain can be sharp and burning or feel more like a dull ache. Sometimes it feels like a jolt of electricity shooting down the leg. If the pain is severe, it may interfere with your normal activities.

Sciatica can also cause changes in sensation in your legs. These may include numbness or tingling. If severe, you may experience a complete loss of sensation in your leg. Untreated sciatica may lead to muscle weakness.

It is possible that whatever is causing your sciatica may damage other nerves in your low back as well. As a result, you may experience bowel or bladder dysfunction, a situation requiring urgent medical attention.

How PT Can Help With Pain

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, “I don’t understand how physical therapy near me can help my sciatica symptoms.” There are a couple of physical therapy techniques that may be effective. Manual therapy techniques can help to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve by loosening tight muscles and increasing nerve flexibility so it can glide between the muscles as it is supposed to. Physical therapy can also improve the strength of your core muscles and improve your body mechanics to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Physical therapy is often the first line of treatment for sciatica.