Approximately 5-10% of the general population will suffer back pain caused by sciatica. Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed due to muscle spasms, herniated discs, bone spurs, or spinal stenosis.
Nerve pain isn’t fun. Sciatica can be severely debilitating and painful.
As a manual therapist, it is important to get to the root of the problem and determine a treatment plan that addresses muscle weaknesses or imbalances, joint dysfunctions, or biomechanical issues. Your client trusts you to get them feeling better!
While pain and anti-inflammatory medication can help ease the symptoms, they are not permanent solutions. What manual therapy methods help ease sciatica issues?
Mobilization techniques are slightly different when applied to the spinal region. To properly learn to perform this technique, we highly recommend taking a mobilization manual therapy course, such as those offered by iBody Academy.
Essentially, a gentle and passive movement is applied to the target spinal region to gently help improve the passive range of motion in the area.
Myofascial release techniques may be beneficial for tight and aggravated muscles surrounding the area, such as the piriformis. Myofascial release techniques can help release the fascia and adhesions in the tissue.
Muscle Energy Techniques (MET)
MET can help lengthen shortened muscles via a voluntary contraction from the patient and a counterforce produced by the therapist. The IMM technique presented by iBody Academy uses components of MET to treat the spine and other areas of the body. Learn more here.
Traction techniques applied to the spine can help relieve any compression, such as that on the nerve or intervertebral discs. It can also help realign the spine, reducing joint dysfunctions and biomechanical issues contributing to sciatica.
Ice or heat can be applied to the affected area for 10-15 minutes at a time. These can help ease pain and reduce any inflammation.
Prescribing exercises, such as stretches to help release tight muscles and improve range of motion, have also proven to be beneficial to many sciatica patients. A core strengthening program may also decrease the risk of chronic nerve pain and can help prevent future back pain issues. Be aware when prescribing exercises that they should be pain-free. If pain occurs, find an alternative.
There is a wide variety of literature regarding sciatica treatment. For each patient, it may depend on the exact cause as to what treatment plan you follow. Make sure to perform a thorough assessment. From your assessment, you can come up with a list of key issues that may be contributing to the problem. Tackle these issues through your treatment protocol.
If you want to stay up-to-date on manual therapy courses, check out iBody Academy’s online and in-class courses. Provide your clients with the best possible treatment and get them back to feeling their best as soon as you can!