How an Occupational Therapist Can Help You Live With Sciatica

Back pain can be debilitating. When you experience this pain along the sciatic nerve, it can become unbearable. Thankfully, you do have treatment options. Occupational therapy can help you with pain relief plus practices for preventing future injuries and pain. So here’s what you must or need to know when looking for occupational or physical therapy near Fern Creek to treat your back pain.

Treatment Plans That Are Specific To You

As its name reflects, sciatica affects the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back to your foot. You have one of these nerves for each leg, handling both motor and sensory functions. Sciatica occurs when part of that nerve is compressed. This usually happens from a spinal bone spur, herniated spinal disk or the narrowing of the spine itself. Common symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Pain radiating from your lower back down to your calf
  • Mild aches or burning sensations down the nerve
  • Numbness or tingling in the back of the leg
  • Muscle weakness in the affected leg

Any treatment for back pain related to sciatica must address both its root causes and symptoms. Occupational therapists develop each client’s treatment plan based on their particular diagnosis and challenges. In most cases, the beginning phase focuses on teaching you how to quickly relieve your pain. Some of these may involve gentle stretches or applying cold and hot packs as appropriate. Other goals include strengthening core muscles and learning proper ergonomics to prevent re-injury.

Back Pain Relief And Increased Flexibility

Muscles in your abdomen, sides and back comprise your body’s core, which supports your spinal column. Weak core muscles don’t provide adequate support and stability, making you more susceptible to slipped disks and similar injuries. That’s because your body relies on passive components like vertebrae, disks and ligaments when your core muscles aren’t quite up to the task.

With this in mind, the middle phase of a sciatica treatment plan involves building your core muscles. Strength and flexibility are the desired outcomes, so your therapy should include exercises to improve both. Strength-building incorporates resistance training to increase muscle mass and capabilities.

Flexibility exercises focus on stretching, which increases muscles’ load potential as they’re extended further out. Stretches also train your nerves to get used to these muscles’ increased extension capabilities. In other words: The further you stretch, the more your body knows that it can do so safely. But such flexibility must be built over time, and your occupational and physical therapists can help you achieve that goal.

Ergonomics and Sciatic Pain

Ergonomics focuses on human posture and movement within a person’s environment. Both are just as critical as muscle strength and flexibility when it comes to reducing injury risk. Improper movement — especially poor mechanics and repetitive motion — can cause serious harm. Occupational therapists in Louisville work with their clients, helping them learn healthier movement and posture practices as part of sciatica treatment plans.

No matter what’s causing your lower back pain, physical and occupational therapy can help minimize that pain. It can also treat the core causes of that pain and give you long-term relief. Working with a trusted therapist is key to achieving these goals.