Sciatica

Editor: Dr. Amy Spencer, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, CSCS, CKTP - A Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and Certified Manual Therapist. Owner and Physical Therapist, Specialized Physical Therapy in North Reading, MA.

The sciatic nerve is a long, thick nerve that passes alongside or through the piriformis muscle, down the back of the leg, and eventually branches off into Specialized Physical Therapy Sciaticasmaller nerves that end in your feet. Approximately 90 percent of bulging discs occur in the lower back area (lumbar section) of the spine. Most lumbar bulging discs are seen between lumbar vertebra L4 and L5, and between vertebra L5 and S1, causing pain in the L5 nerve or S1 spinal nerve, respectively. The sciatic nerve receives neurons from spinal nerves L3 through S3. If the bulging disc impinges on one or more of these six spinal nerves it may result in sciatica pain. Sciatic pain originates in the low back, radiates through the buttocks, down the back to the leg, and may extend all the way into your foot.

Causes of Sciatica:

Sciatica can be caused by irritation of the root(s) of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine.

Other common causes of sciatica include:

  • Lumbar spinal – a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back that results in pain
  • Degenerative disc disease – breakdown of discs, which are need as cushioning between the vertebrae
  • Spondylolisthesis – a condition where one vertebra slips forward over another one causing pain
  • Pregnancy – carrying the additional weight upfront can cause sciatica pain

Other factors that can contribute to your pain include being overweight, prolonged sitting, wearing high heels, or sleeping on a mattress that is too soft.

Symptoms of Sciatica:

Symptoms are typically one sided and include:

  • Pain in the buttock or leg that is worse when sitting
  • Burning or tingling that runs down the leg
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
  • A constant pain on one side of the buttock
  • A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up

Treatment of Sciatica:

Sciatica pain can be extremely painful and debilitating. Physical therapy will reduce the pain, so you can regain your active lifestyle. Modalities such as Ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and ice may be included to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Accompanying modalities with manual physical therapy will also lessen muscle tightness or spasms in the back or buttock regions. Physical therapists will usually also give you a tailored exercise program to correct your posture, strengthen the muscles that support your back, and improve your overall flexibility.

SPT is just minutes from Andover, Reading, North Andover, and Wilmington MA

Specialized Physical Therapy is conveniently located in North Reading and also proudly serves residents in Andover, Reading, North Andover, Wilmington, Boxford, Burlington, Woburn, Stoneham, and Methuen.  We offer free and spacious parking located within a few steps away from our clinic’s door.


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Specialized Physical Therapy practices a comprehensive approach to total muscle, joint, and spine health. We are the preferred physical therapy clinic in Greater Boston, because we offer an extensive range of physical therapy services designed to restore your physical strength and mobility while reducing your pain. Our physical therapy clinic sets itself apart by:

  • Providing proven techniques for alleviating minor, major, acute, and chronic pain.
  • Specializing in sports medicine, manual therapy, post-surgical care, auto accidents, prenatal and postpartum conditions, orthopedic injuries and overuse injuries.
  • Maintaining a clean, comfortable, private and quiet clinic, making it ideal for private consulting, educating and performing the latest physical therapy techniques.
  • Focusing on your individual needs, not the bottom line, because we are a small, physical therapist-owned and family-oriented clinic.
  • Treating one patient at a time in our private treatment room to make sure that you get the personalized care and attention you need.
  • Completing your treatment from start to finish with only exceptional doctorate trained and fully licensed Massachusetts physical therapists that have excellent skills, breadth of knowledge, and invaluable experience to help you reach your goals and succeed.


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