Physical therapy and exercise for sciatica

Exercise for sciatica relief, along with physical therapy, can be an extremely important part of a nonsurgical, conservative treatment plan. Both exercise and physical therapy can improve strength and flexibility in the back, which can relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Additionally, continuing an exercise program if symptoms do subside can help prevent a future flair-up of sciatica pain. Like any treatment, exercise and physical therapy should be pursued with the close partnership of your doctor to ensure it improves and does not worsen symptoms. If the wrong movements are practiced, or if the selected movements are not performed correctly, exercise can make sciatica worse or damage the back in other ways.

How to safely engage in physical therapy and exercise for sciatica

Follow these guidelines for the best chance of injury prevention:

  • Make sure to maintain the posture specified by your doctor or physical therapist while performing the exercises.
  • If the exercise creates pain, stop, review the instructions for the exercise and try again. If pain persists, stop and consult with your doctor or therapist for help.
  • Don’t push your body further than instructed in regards to stretching or repetitions. Do the exercises exactly as directed.
  • Follow your doctor or therapist’s entire plan for pain relief. This includes taking medication, making lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or losing weight and using at-home treatments like hot and cold compresses.

If surgery becomes an option

Physical therapy and exercise as part of a comprehensive conservative treatment plan help many patients find pain relief and a return to normal function. However, surgery can become an option if weeks or month of treatments for sciatica do not bring an improvement in symptoms. If you are recommended for a procedure, you may be anxious about the hospitalization, large incision and long recovery time that comes with traditional open spine surgery.

Laser Spine Institute’s board-certified surgeons+ perform minimally invasive spine surgery that can avoid these risks and difficulties. By using a muscle-sparing less than 1-inch incision, these procedures offer an outpatient experience and less risk of complications like infection, scarring and failed back surgery syndrome when compared to traditional surgery.

For a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today.

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