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  • Writer's pictureDr. Hanna Shays

Experiencing Sciatic Nerve Pain? Let's Resolve It!

Man bent over with back pain on beach
Don't let sciatic nerve pain (sciatica) stop you from living your active lifestyle.

Sciatica can be a debilitating condition that disrupts daily life and limits mobility. Characterized by radiating pain that travels along the sciatic nerve, from the lower back down through the buttocks and into the legs, sciatica can stem from various underlying causes, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or piriformis syndrome. While the symptoms of sciatica can be excruciating, there is hope for relief through targeted physical therapy interventions such as myofascial release, dry needling, and improving muscle activation patterns.

Understanding Sciatica:

The sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body, originates from the lower back (lumbar spine) and extends through the buttocks, branching out into the legs, all the way down to the feet. When this nerve becomes compressed or irritated, it can lead to a range of symptoms, including sharp or shooting pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, depending on the underlying cause and individual factors.

Myofascial Release- More Than a Massage:

Myofascial release is a hands-on technique used by physical therapists to alleviate muscular tension and restore optimal tissue mobility. In the context of sciatica, myofascial release focuses on releasing tight muscles and fascia that may be contributing to nerve compression or irritation. Typically, the muscles that Dr. Shays targets include the hamstrings and piriformis, as hamstring dominance creates overuse tension in the muscles and the pain from sciatica causes the piriformis to lock up and further compress the sciatic nerve. By applying sustained pressure to specific areas of tension, physical therapists can effectively stretch and elongate the fascia, allowing for improved circulation, reduced inflammation, and reduced nerve irritation.

Dry Needling:

Dry needling is another option available to certified physical therapists. This technique involves the insertion of thin needles into trigger points within muscles, aiming to deactivate hyperactive muscle fibers and alleviate pain. By targeting trigger points along the pathway of the sciatic nerve, dry needling can help reduce muscle tension and release built-up pressure, thereby diminishing the symptoms. Additionally, dry needling promotes the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, providing immediate relief and facilitating the body's natural healing processes.

Improving Gluteus Maximus Activation:

The gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the buttocks, plays a crucial role in stabilizing the pelvis and supporting proper posture and movement mechanics. Weakness or dysfunction in the gluteus maximus can contribute to imbalances in the musculoskeletal system, potentially exacerbating symptoms of sciatica. This is often seen with "gluteal amnesia" and hamstring dominance. Basically, over time, we can become overly reliant on activating our hamstrings to move around, neglecting to properly activate and use our glutes. This pattern is rooted in excess sitting- a growing problem in modern society. Dr. Shays employs targeted neuromuscular exercises and rehabilitation techniques to improve her patients' gluteus maximus activation, thereby reducing strain on the sciatic nerve and promoting optimal biomechanical function. By strengthening the gluteus maximus and promoting proper muscle activation patterns, Dr. Shays helps her patients address the underlying cause of sciatica and prevent future recurrence.

Getting Scheduled as soon as this Week:

Curious to see if physical therapy could help eliminate your sciatic nerve pain? Get scheduled as soon as this week with Dr. Shays in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Tequesta, or Juno Beach!

☎️ Phone: 561-231-0401

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