Common Causes of Sciatica

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a term commonly used to describe pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling that radiates down the back of the leg. These symptoms can be debilitating for some and contribute to difficulty performing daily activities.

Where does it come from?

There are 4 common causes of sciatica:

  1. Disc Herniation – Pressure on the sciatic nerve can occur from the protrusion of a disc in the lumbar spine. This pressure can cause pain to travel through the pathway of the sciatic nerve down the leg.
  2. Spinal Stenosis – Narrowing of the space where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal can also cause pressure on the nerve.
  3. Piriformis Syndrome – The piriformis is a muscle deep in your gluteal region that the sciatic nerve runs underneath and sometimes through. Tightness or spasm of this muscle can cause pressure on the nerve that sends pain down the leg.
  4. Referred Pain from Trigger Points – Trigger points are tight knots in muscles that can cause local or referred pain. Trigger points found in the gluteal muscles can cause referred pain that is felt down the leg and is similar to sciatic nerve pain.

How can PT help?

 A physical therapist is trained to evaluate your symptoms and do a thorough assessment to determine what may be causing them. The aim of treatment is to restore your range of motion, increase your flexibility, increase strength and stability, decrease trigger point formation, and improve your functional mobility. Treatment plans are individualized and are determined based on the causes of your symptoms and your specific presentation. If you are suffering from sciatica-related symptoms, call Harbor Physical Therapy to help eliminate your pain and prevent it from reoccurring.

Written by:

Dr, David Reymann
Staff Physical Therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy

Increase Computer Time and Pain Prevention

Do you sit in front of the computer most of the day? Do you get tension headaches, neck pain, and sore chest muscles?

This is a result of repetitive forward head movement that can be from typing, reading and looking down to write. Excessive forward head posture puts strain on your neck and shoulder muscles. Perform the pectoralis stretch below to decrease strain to your neck and shoulder muscles.

Stand in a doorway and place your arms about 90 degrees along the sides of the door frame. Step through the door frame until you feel a stretch across your chest. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Alternate your foot forward with each stretch.

Pectoralis Stretch

Written by:
Amanda Macht, D.P.T.
Owner/Physical Therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy

What is the Difference between a Physical Therapist and Chiropractor?

 

Have you ever wondered whether you should see a Physical therapist or a Chiropractor for your symptoms? Check out the descriptions below to learn the differences and which type of provider you should see depending on your injury.

Physical Therapist

A physical therapist performs an exam of an individual’s impairment, disability or functional limitation by examining their movement, affected joints and tissue, neuromuscular imbalances and misalignment. They determine a diagnosis and intervention of treatment and set treatment goals.  Physical therapists work to alleviate pain, restore range of motion, regain any function lost, promote and maintain fitness and prevent further injury. The physical therapist may use heat/cold, electric stimulation, ultrasound, soft tissue mobilization, stretching, exercise and other manual techniques to reach treatment goals. There are many different specialties/settings in physical therapy.  Examples of this are outpatient, women’s health, acute care, sub-acute care, sport, and neurological.  An average physical therapy treatment program consists of the patient attending physical therapy 2 times a week for 4 to 6 weeks.  The end goal for a physical therapy treatment program is to decrease the patient’s symptoms and educate the patient on how to prevent their injury/symptoms from recurring through continued exercise.

Chiropractor

A chiropractor concentrates on musculoskeletal and systemic disorders through a controlled manipulation of the spine. Some chiropractors perform x-rays of the spine to check for misalignment. Chiropractors look to the physiological and biochemical aspects of the patient’s structural, spinal, musculoskeletal and neurological components. They also may use heat/cold electrical stimulation and ultrasound for pain control. Chiropractors practice in a private practice setting and occasionally you can find them staffed in a hospital setting.  In the state of Maryland, Chiropractors can take an exam to receive physical therapy privileges.  Therefore, you might see a facility advertising chiropractic and physical therapy services together. However, be mindful that most of these facilities only employ chiropractors.  A chiropractic treatment program on average is once a week and then tapers down to once a month for a long period of time.  Chiropractors typically see their patient consistently for sometimes years to continue to assess for misalignment of the spine to manipulate.

If you are wondering what practitioner you should see for your injury, it is always beneficial to see a physical therapist.  I typically educate my patients that you should always see a physical therapist first as we are more conservative than chiropractors.  Physical Therapists are able to increase strength/range of motion of a muscle/joint which in turn naturally corrects misalignment of the spine.  If you have not reached your goals with physical therapy, then try your local chiropractor.

Written by:

Amanda Macht, D.P.T.
Owner/Physical Therapist Harbor Physical Therapy

Knee Pain and Running

If you have been suffering from pain in the front of your knee while running, you may be suffering from patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee. Multiple factors including muscle weakness, tightness, and imbalances can contribute to increased stress on the knee cap and the structures underneath it. Patellofemoral symptoms increase the more that you run. The best way to decrease symptoms is to get a thorough evaluation by a physical therapist to determine the most appropriate exercises for you.  Listed below are several strengthening exercises that target the muscles in your hip and knee that are commonly provided to patients with knee pain.

Straight Leg Raise– Squeeze your quads in the front of your thigh to straighten your knee and lift your leg to the level of your opposite thigh.Clams– While on your side with your knees bent, lift your knee up. Do not let your hips roll forwards or  backwards.

Side-lying Hip Abduction– While on your side, squeeze your quads to straighten your knee. Lift your leg up without letting your hips roll forwards or backwards.

Bridges– While on your back, lift your hips up to the ceiling while squeezing your core and glutes.

If your symptoms still persist after performing these exercises, please call Harbor Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment.

 

By: Dr. David Reymann- Staff Physical Therapy at Harbor Physical Therapy

 

Staying Hydrated with Exercise

Drinking too much or being dehydrated can decrease your workout productivity. To determine if you are well hydrated, take a look at your urine volume and color. If your urine is light yellow in color and you are going on a regular basis (every 3 to 4 hours), you are well hydrated. If your urine is dark, you are dehydrated.

It is important to make sure you are well hydrated before working out. It is recommended to drink between 8 to 16 ounces of water 15 minutes before your workout. During your workout, it is recommended to drink 4 to 8 ounces every 15-20 minutes. If you are working out vigorously for over 90 minutes, it is recommended you drink 8 to 10 ounces of a sports drink every 15 to 30 minutes.

How to Achieve an Ergonomic Workstation

 

1. Adjust your chair height so that your feet are flat on the floor. Use a footrest to assist.
2. Keep your wrist posture neutral.
3. Keep your monitor between 20 and 40 inches from your face.
4. Adjust your monitor so that the center of the screen is at eye level.
5. Place your keyboard so that your upper arms are perpendicular to the floor.
6. Adjust your chair to keep your body supported in an upright position.
7. Adjust your back rest to target the lumbar region of your spine.
8. Keep your work within 16 inches of your body.

If you are unable to achieve an ergonomic workstation on your own, Harbor Physical Therapy can help!  Our Physical Therapists are able to assess your workstation sitting posture and transform it into an ideal sitting posture for your workstation to decrease strain on your joints.

Wellness Event- October 2, 2018 at HPT!

Join Charm City Run, CITYFIT, and Harbor Physical Therapy for a FREE Wellness event at Harbor Physical Therapy. The event will include a dry needling demonstration and dry needling sessions with Dr. David Reymann, injury screenings with Dr. Amanda Macht and Dr. Holly Hibbard, Running Gait Analysis with Charm City Run, Yoga and Circuit training.

You will be able to cycle through the different stations to enjoy all the complimentary services being offered by locally owned Baltimore businesses.

If you are driving to this event, we will be validating parking in the Harbor Court Garage on 10 East Lee Street for a discounted rate of $3.

Managing Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, particularly in individuals 40-60 years of age. It is typically worst when taking the first few steps in the morning, after sitting for long periods of time, or after prolonged walking.

Try decreasing these symptoms at home by following these steps:

Rest: try to modify or limit the activities that are causing your heel pain such as prolonged walking or athletic activities.

Ice: Rolling your foot over a cold or frozen water bottle for about 15 minutes at a time can help decrease pain. Perform this 3-4 times a day.

Self Massage
Exercise: Plantar fasciitis is commonly associated with tight calf muscles. There are two muscles in your calf, the gastrocnemius and the soleus, that can contribute to heel pain. Try performing these stretches and strengthening exercises at home to help decrease pain.

 

If symptoms do not improve at home, be sure to contact your physician or physical therapist. Always check with your physician prior to beginning a new exercise routine to ensure it is safe for you.

 

Written by:

Dr. Holly Hibbard
Staff Physical Therapist at HPT