Exercise to ease sciatica pain

Specialized exercises may help you find relief from sciatica pain. Sciatica pain often stems from a degenerative spine condition or an abnormality in the lower back (lumbar spine).

When certain types of spine conditions compress the sciatic nerve (the largest and longest nerve in the body), uncomfortable symptoms may occur. Common sciatica symptoms include localized or radiating pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, feet or toes.

How exercise helps sciatica

If you have sciatica, you may be able to find pain relief with the help of conservative (noninvasive) treatments. Conservative treatments, including pain medication, behavior modification and physical therapy, often provide relief for sciatica symptoms — without the need for surgery.

Specialized, targeted exercises, under the close supervision of a trained therapist, may help you find long-lasting relief from discomfort caused by sciatica.

Some of the specific goals of exercises for sciatica include:

  • Strengthening the core muscles of the abdomen, back and buttocks — this provides spinal support and helps maintain alignment in the spine, thereby allowing normal twisting, flexion and extension
  • Targeting tight or inflexible muscles — stretching, especially of the hamstrings, can relieve tension from tight muscles, thereby decreasing stress on the lower back
  • Improving circulation and fluid exchange — low-impact cardiovascular exercises, such as walking or swimming, help facilitate the flow of healing nutrients and endorphins – the body’s natural pain killers

At times, sciatica symptoms do not improve after several months of exercise therapy and other conservative treatments. In some cases, sciatica symptoms may even begin to worsen. If this happens to you, your doctor may recommend that you consider surgical treatment for sciatica.

Discover the Laser Spine Institute difference

At Laser Spine Institute, our surgeons specialize exclusively in relieving neck and back pain through minimally invasive, outpatient spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery for sciatica pain is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery, and it offers you a number of benefits over traditional spine surgery, such as a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication and infection.

Our surgeons perform two types of procedures to help patients with sciatica pain: minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery removes a portion of the damaged disc, vertebra or joint that is pressing against the sciatic nerve. If the damage to the spine is more advanced, a minimally invasive stabilization surgery may be used to replace the damaged disc or joint with an artificial disc and/or bone graft. This allows us to stabilize the spine while still maintaining a close-to-normal range of motion after surgery, unlike traditional fusion that renders a portion of the spine immobile.

Find help for sciatica pain

If you are interested in learning more about sciatica spine surgery options offered at one of our outpatient surgery centers, please contact a member of our Care Team today. We will be happy to review your MRI and CT scan to determine your candidacy for our minimally invasive spine surgery.

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