» Back Pain & Sciatica

Conditions We Treat

Back Pain & Sciatica

Back Pain & Sciatica Pain Relief

If you’re dealing with back pain you’re not alone. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine back pain is so common that 8 out of 10 people will suffer from it.  Treating back pain is challenging because a special approach is needed to obtain lasting results.  Physical therapy is your most powerful weapon against back pain and sciatica because it gives genuine, long-term relief.  Contact us today to get the low back pain and sciatica relief you need.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition involving damage to the sciatic nerve – the longest nerve in the human body, typically through compression or inflammation. Your sciatic nerve starts in your lower back and travels down each leg. Sciatic pain may follow this same route.

The main symptom of sciatica is lower back pain, but you may have other symptoms including numbness in the leg or an unpleasant tingling sensation in the foot.

Causes of Sciatica

The nerve damage that causes sciatica can occur in several different ways. One common cause are herniated discs.  Discs are between each vertebra in your spine.  Imagine that they are like a jelly donut.  If you compress the donut, you can move the jelly.  If you compress too much, the jelly can protrude out or actually come out of the donut. Disc herniation occurs when the disc material moves out of its normal place. When this happens between two of your lumbar vertebrae, it pushes on your sciatic nerve and causes sciatica symptoms like lower back pain.

While a herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica, there are other causes as well. These can include:

Spinal stenosis: when your spinal canal narrows and compresses the sciatic nerve.

Spondylolisthesis: when one of the vertebrae in your lower back slips out of place, it puts pressure on another vertebra and traps the sciatic nerve.

Degenerative disc disease: more common in older adults, thinning of the intervertebral discs can result in disc and vertebral damage, and result in complications such as sciatica.

Osteoarthritis: when you have osteoarthritis, severe inflammation of the spinal joints can cause enough swelling to irritate the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica.

How Physical Therapy Helps Sciatica and Low Back Pain

Research has repeatedly shown that physical therapy is a highly effective treatment for sciatica and other forms of lower back pain, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention specifically recommends physical therapy for non-invasive pain relief.

The reason physical therapy is such a powerful sciatica and lower back pain treatment is because it focuses on finding and correcting the pain at its source. This eliminates the underlying problem rather than treating the symptom. In contrast, taking medication to relieve the pain is temporary because it doesn’t fix the cause. After a few hours, you’ll need more medication when your symptoms return. With physical therapy, your back pain and sciatica symptoms will actually be cured, and you won’t need to take pain medication any longer.

When you visit us, your physical therapist will conduct a complete assessment to pinpoint the origin and underlying cause(s) of your pain. You will then receive a customized plan of action to effectively relieve the pressure on your sciatic nerve, heal damaged tissue and alleviate the inflammation. You’ll also grow stronger, improve your range of motion, and take steps to prevent re-injury in the future.

Some of the treatments we use for sciatica and low back pain include:

  • Joint mobilization
  • Spinal traction
  • Manual therapy to address the muscles and fascia
  • Prescribed strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Neuromuscular re-education
  • Dry needling
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Class IV laser therapy
  • Electrical muscle stimulation
  • Heat therapy
  • Cold (ice) therapy

These non-invasive physical therapy techniques are chosen by our expert team for two reasons: your individual, specific needs and the proven effectiveness of each technique. Your physical therapist will use the best in evidence-based treatment to help you beat sciatica pain, both now and long term. Contact us anytime to fight sciatica and start your journey to a pain free life! Visit us at Healing Hands Physical Therapy 58 Parkland Plaza, Suite 100, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.


What are the causes of back pain?

There are a large number of conditions that can result in back pain. For example, poor posture, car accidents, and sports-related injuries are just a few of the ways that someone may develop back pain. Injury is the most common cause of back pain. This can happen in one of two ways: 1) an instant, sudden trauma, such as a car accident, or 2) repetitive use that puts excessive stress on the back over time, such as bending down several times throughout the week to pick up boxes. Some other factors that may contribute to your back pain include degenerative disc disease, lumbar spinal stenosis, fractures, herniated disc, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and tumors of the spine.

Why does my back hurt?

Back pain commonly results from a muscle strain or injury; however, it can also develop as a result of an underlying condition, such as a herniated disc, sciatica, or degenerative disc disease. Poor posture, car accidents, and sports-related injuries are also common ways that someone may develop back pain. Your physical therapist will focus on treating the root of your back pain, in order to help you regain mobility, function, and comfort.

How can I get relief from back pain?

You can treat your back pain with physical therapy. Physical therapy can address back pain by helping to improve your range of motion, strengthening the muscles in the affected areas, and using targeted massage to reduce tension. In many situations, working with a physical therapist to improve can significantly reduce the severity of your back pain, and may even help you avoid more invasive procedures, such as surgery.

What are the best exercises for back pain?

It is common that the muscles used to support the lower back may become weakened from inactivity. We’ll prescribe targeted, easy-to-do exercises that we will walk you through, in order to help your back muscles regain their strength. This will help provide greater support to your spine and reduce any inflammation you may be experiencing. While the best exercises for your back pain are relative to your specific conditions, some common ones your physical therapist may have you do include spine stretches and abdominal strenthening.

Share this page