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Back Pain Health Center

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Sciatica Pain Relief

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Physical Therapy for Sciatica

Sciatica pain may make it difficult to be active. But bed rest is not recommended as a mainstay treatment. To manage new sciatica pain, you may find that certain positions and activities are more comfortable than others.

If symptoms are not severe but persist beyond a couple of weeks, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. The proper exercises may actually help reduce sciatic pain. They can also provide conditioning to help prevent the pain from coming back.

The exercises recommended will depend on what's causing the sciatica. It's important to work with a specialist who has experience working with people with sciatica. It's also important to do the exercises exactly as directed.

To get the proper direction, you will most likely work with one of the following specialists:

  • Physical therapist
  • Physiatrist -- a doctor who specializes in physical medicine

Complementary and Alternative Remedies for Sciatica Pain Relief

Some people find pain relief from complementary and alternative therapies such as biofeedback and acupuncture. Keep in mind, though, that these therapies have not been shown by scientific studies to help sciatica.

Biofeedback is a technique that helps make it possible to control bodily processes such as heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. It works by using a machine that provides information about the process being addressed. Having that information displayed, the person is often able to find ways to achieve conscious control of these processes. Probably the most common use of biofeedback is to treat stress and stress-related conditions.

Acupuncture is a treatment that uses fine needles inserted at specific locations on the skin called acupuncture points. The points are located along meridians, or channels. The channels are thought to conduct qi, which is said to be the energy or vital force of the body. The theory behind using acupuncture is that pain is thought to result from imbalances or blockages of the flow of qi. Acupuncture is supposed to remove those blockages to restore the balance.

One theory is that stimulating these points produces an effect by stimulating the central nervous system. This, in turn, would trigger the release of chemicals that either alter the experience of pain or produce other changes that promote a sense of well-being.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 20, 2012
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