Study Shows Physical Therapy Improves Sciatica Symptoms

Lower back pain that radiates down your leg is called sciatica, and it’s caused by nerve root irritation in the lower spine. It’s typically only in one leg, and is a very common condition. Doctors have often approached sciatica with a ‘wait and see’ treatment style; encouraging patients to dial back activity and rest, waiting to see if the sciatica symptoms improve. Recently, a physical-therapy led study challenged that approach by suggesting that early physical therapy and maintaining activity could actually improve symptoms.

The study, noted in ChoosePT online, looked at the difference between groups of sciatica patients who received early physical therapy and those who reduced activity and waited for improvement. The results were impressive: those patients in the physical therapy group saw improvements in important measurements like being able to stand, sit, pain level, sleep, and more, compared to the wait-and-see group. Activity with physical therapy treatment – and not inactivity – led to dramatically improved sciatica symptoms in a 4-week period.

For years, many types of back pain were often dealt with by suggesting a reduction in activity; and in fact “bed rest” was once standard treatment for back pain. We’re learning that movement is vital to seeing improvement in back pain, including pain such as sciatica (as this study indicates). Patients themselves often believe that inactivity can help; the logic being that movement and activity hurts, so immobility must be better. This isn’t accurate and can often make things worse! We’ve written about fear-avoidance before: that’s the cycle created when someone is afraid of pain with movement or activity and stops the movement or activity that causes (or may cause) pain. In the end, it can cause more problems than it solves. You’ll likely end up needing to do more work for your recovery and mobility if you’ve become less active than if you had stayed active and moving.

At Body One PT,  your Physical Therapist will work with you based on your activity level, condition, and goals. Our providers are also very experienced in knowing the emotional side of injury and pain as well, so you won’t have to worry that your concerns are unusual – in fact, the more you’re able to share with us, the more helpful it can be to your recovery! Your Physical Therapist will create a custom treatment plan that will typically include both manual (hands on) therapy and an exercise program for you to do at home between visits to the clinic. Back pain is common: so is recovery from back pain, and Physical Therapy is an ideal frontline treatment.

If you’re dealing with sciatica or other types of back pain, Body One PT is get – and keep – you moving. We’re locally owned and operated, with three locations serving Central Indianapolis: North Indy/Carmel, Fishers, and Zionsville. Don’t count yourself down, partner with the best PT team in Indy! Call or click today and let’s get started getting you better.