After Years of Sciatic Pain…Finally, Some Relief!

PTSMC Middletown back

Pain in the sciatic nerve, referred to as “sciatica,” can be a frustrating, sometimes debilitating experience that impacts almost every aspect of life – making it hard to move, sit or even sleep without pain. The main symptom of sciatica is pain that shoots or radiates along the path of the nerve, which travels from your lower back through your hips, buttocks and down the legs (typically only along one side). This usually occurs when the nerve is being compressed due to spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine), herniated disc or bone spurs. The pain can range from aching discomfort to severe, sharp pain and can be accompanied by numbness, tingling and/or weakness in the affected leg.

Still, sciatica can often be treated without operation in a few weeks with the guidance of a licensed physical therapist, who can offer stretches, exercises and other support that can strengthen muscles around the affected and supporting areas, create space within the spine and shift posture and movement to take pressure off of the compressed nerve.

Debby A. in Old Saybrook was experiencing constant, severe sciatic pain for years with no sign of relief. She turned to physical therapy at PTSMC Essex and shared this Patient Success Story with us…

“After approximately three years of tolerating frequent and intense sciatic pain in my right hip and leg, I made the decision to switch from a chiropractor to an orthopedist/physical therapy. It was the best decision I could have made. I finally received a diagnosis, piriformis syndrome, and began PT with Ann [Hall] twice a week.

I knew I was in the right place from the first visit. Ann listened patiently to my detailed history of symptoms, watched me walk across the room and up and down stairs to observe my gait, now limping. She asked lots of questions, took measurements, and then created a treatment plan, with a list of exercises I could do at home to target the weak muscles that were causing the pain. She answered all my questions and suggested lifestyle modifications such as sleeping with a pillow between my knees. All of these pieces put together slowly but surely began to relieve the pain. In about a month’s time, I began to have pain-free weeks, and if the sciatica flared up, it was minor compared to what it had been. Ann slowly increased the intensity of the exercises according to my pace, and if something didn’t work well for me, she switched it out to another exercise that did. In July, I took a 12-hour car trip for vacation, and suffered no pain in either direction. Success!

Everyone at Essex PTSMC was friendly and motivating when I most needed it — their caring is warm and genuine — not clinical and impersonal like some treatment centers. I have just been discharged but was encouraged to come back for any questions or concerns or support with ongoing home exercises. I now feel stronger when I walk and am looking forward to longer distances and a faster pace. Moving through life without pain feels amazing!

A big thank you to Ann, Kelley, and everyone at the clinic for making this possible!”

Congratulations to Debby on her progress in living pain free!

Remember, pain does not have to be your new normal. Something like sciatica can seem to be a life sentence, but the experts at PTSMC are here to help assess, diagnose and help treat the root cause of your pain. In most cases, you do not need a doctor’s referral to get assessed and treated, and most insurances will cover part or all of your PT treatment! If you’re experiencing body pain or movement limitation, contact a PTSMC clinic near you to be seen as soon as possible.

You can learn more about sciatica symptoms and treatment here, and request an appointment for assessment here.