Sciatica Or Lumbar Radiculopathy Trearment in Wandsworth
Lumbar radiculopathy (also known as sciatica or lumbar radiculitis) is a condition that occurs when a nerve in your low back is injured, pinched, or compressed, causing pain or other symptoms that can extend from the low back to the hip, leg, or foot. Lumbar radiculopathy can be caused by sudden trauma or by long-term stress affecting structures in the back. It most often affects people aged 30 to 50 years. Risk factors for lumbar radiculopathy include repeated lifting, participating in weight-bearing sports, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyles, and poor posture. The majority of lumbar radiculopathy and sciatica cases recover without surgery, and respond well to Physiotherapy. Physiotherapists design individualized treatment programs to help people with lumbar radiculopathy reduce their pain, regain normal movement, and get back to their normal activities.
What is Sciatica?
The spine is made up of 33 vertebrae (bones) stacked on top of each other. On the side of each vertebra are openings in the bone through which nerve roots and nerves exit the spinal canal and travel out to the hips, legs, and feet. Between each vertebra is a piece of cartilage called an “intervertebral disc” that acts like a cushion between the vertebrae.
Injuries close to the spine can cause pressure or injury to the nerves and nerve roots. These injuries may include:
- Bulging intervertebral discs (“herniated or prolapsed disc”)
- Overstretching of a nerve or nerve root
- Tight piriformis muscle
Conditions that can cause lumbar radiculopathy to develop over time include:
- Bone spurs
Sudden injury can occur with a fall, when a person lifts an object awkwardly, or through trauma such as a car accident. Structures surrounding the spine, such as ligaments or nerves, can also be injured.
A slow onset of lumbar radiculopathy can occur from sitting or standing with poor posture (slumped forward) for weeks, months, or years. Poor posture can slowly overstretch ligaments in the back, allowing pressure to occur on a spinal nerve. As that pressure increases, the pain can travel farther out along the path of the nerve, causing discomfort in the hip, leg, or foot.
How Does it Feel?
Lumbar radiculopathy can cause pain, muscle tightness and weakness, or other symptoms. The pain usually starts in the low back, and can travel to the hip, leg, or foot. The location of the pain can vary depending on which nerve in the back is affected and how much it is irritated. Greater irritation causes the pain to spread farther. Spreading pain usually affects 1 leg, but may affect both legs. Pain and other symptoms can be constant or come and go, and can vary in intensity.
If a nerve or nerve root is severely pinched or compressed, it can cause severe pain, muscle weakness, or extreme movement problems. Surgery may be recommended in more severe cases. On rare occasions, nerve compression can cause bladder control or bowel function problems, in which case immediate surgery is recommended.
Your Physiotherapist at Equilibrium Therapy Centre in Wandsworth can help determine the details of your condition and whether consultation with a surgeon is necessary. Your Physiotherapist will work with your physician or surgeon to determine your best treatment.
Signs and Symptoms
Lumbar radiculopathy can cause a variety of symptoms. The type and location of your symptoms will depend on the amount of pressure being placed on the affected nerve(s). Symptoms may include:
- Pain and/or pressure in the back, hip, leg(s), foot/feet
- Pain that can be throbbing, aching, shooting, sharp, dull, or burning
- Inability to bend or rotate the back
- Numbness or tingling in the back, hip(s), leg(s), or feet
- Weakness in the leg(s)
- Increased pain when coughing, sneezing, reaching, or sitting
- Inability to stand up straight; being “stuck” in a position such as stooped forward
- Difficulty getting up from a chair
- Inability to remain in 1 position for a long period of time, such as sitting or standing, due to pain
- Pain that is worse in the morning
- Limping when walking
The pain or other symptoms can occur in 1 limb or both. They can be in different locations at different times, and can change depending on your activity or body positioning. For example, pain can lessen or worsen when walking versus sitting or lying down versus standing up.
Your physiotherapist at Equilibrium Therapy Centre in Wandsworth will conduct a thorough evaluation that includes taking your health history. Your physiotherapist also will ask you detailed questions about your injury, such as:
- Do you have loss of control of your bladder or bowel? CAUTION: Contact a medical professional immediately if you experience this condition.
- How and when did the pain start?
- At what time of day is it worse?
- What type of discomfort do you feel, and where do you feel it?
- What are you unable to do right now in your daily life due to the pain?
Your physiotherapist will perform tests on your body to identify problems, such as:
- Difficulty moving
- Muscle weakness or tightness
- Changes in skin sensation (numbness)
- Changes in reflexes
- Joint stiffness
- Changes in posture
- Difficulty walking or balancing
If your physiotherapist at Equilibrium Therapy Centre in Wandsworth finds any of the above problems, physiotherapy treatment may begin right away, to help get you on the road to recovery and back to your normal activities.
If testing indicates any concerns, your physiotherapist will consult your physician or surgeon regarding the need for special diagnostic testing, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Physiotherapists work closely with physicians and other health care providers to ensure you receive an accurate diagnosis, treatment, and the care you need.
How Can a Physiotherapist Help?
In all but the most extreme cases of lumbar radiculopathy, conservative care (such as Physiotherapy) often results in better and faster results than surgery or pain medication (such as opioid medication).
Your Physiotherapist at Equilibrium Therapy Centre in Wandsworth will work with you to design a specific treatment program that will speed your recovery, including exercises and treatments that you can do at home. Physiotherapy will help you return to your normal lifestyle and activities. The time it takes to heal the condition varies, but on average improvement may be achieved in 8-12 weeks, when a proper posture, pain reduction, stretching, and strengthening program is implemented.
During the first 24 to 48 hours following your diagnosis of lumbar radiculopathy, your physiotherapist may advise you to:
- Protect the area by avoiding activity that causes worsening symptoms, such as heavy lifting.
- Avoid too much bed rest.
- Stay active around the house, and go on short walks several times per day. Movement will decrease your pain and stiffness, and help you feel better.
- Apply ice packs to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 hours.
- Sit in firm chairs. Soft couches and easy chairs may make your problems worse.
- Consult with a physician for further services, such as medication or diagnostic tests.
Some exercises are better for individuals with lumbar radiculopathy. Your Physiotherapist will educate you about them.