Lumbar radiculopathy (also known as sciatica or lumbar radiculitis) is a condition in which a nerve in your low back is injured, pinched, or compressed, causing pain or other symptoms that can extend from your low back to your hip, leg, or foot. Lumbar radiculopathy can be caused by a sudden injury or long-term stress on the back’s tissues. It primarily affects adults between the ages of 30 and 50. Repeated lifting, participation in weight-bearing activities, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyles, and bad posture are all risk factors for lumbar radiculopathy. The majority of lumbar radiculopathy and sciatica cases respond favourably to physiotherapy and can be treated without surgery. Physiotherapists provide tailored treatment plans to help persons with lumbar radiculopathy relieve discomfort, recover normal movement, and resume daily activities.
What is Sciatica?
The spine is made up of 33 bones (vertebrae) placed on top of one another. Nerve roots and nerves escape the spinal canal and proceed to the hips, legs, and feet through holes in the bone on the sides of each vertebra. A portion of cartilage called a “intervertebral disc” sits between each vertebra and functions as a cushion between them.
Nerves and nerve roots can be irritated or injured by injuries near to the spine. The following are examples of possible injuries:
- Bulging intervertebral discs (“herniated or prolapsed disc”)
- Overstretching of a nerve or nerve root
- Tight piriformis muscle
The following conditions can cause lumbar radiculopathy to develop over time:
- Bone spurs
A fall, lifting an object awkwardly, or trauma such as a vehicle collision can all result in a sudden injury. Ligaments and nerves, which surround the spine, can be harmed as well.
Sitting or standing with bad posture (slumped forward) for weeks, months, or years can cause lumbar radiculopathy to develop slowly. Poor posture can cause ligaments in the back to stretch out, putting pressure on a spinal nerve. As the strain on the nerve rises, the pain might spread further along the nerve’s course, causing discomfort in the hip, leg, or foot.
How Does it Feel?
Lumbar radiculopathy can result in pain, muscle tightness and weakness, as well as other signs and symptoms. The discomfort typically begins in the low back and spreads to the hip, leg, and foot. The discomfort might be anywhere in the back, depending on which nerve is impacted and how much it is stimulated. The discomfort spreads farther as the irritation increases. Spreading discomfort typically affects one leg, although it can also affect both. Pain and other symptoms might be persistent or intermittent, and their intensity can vary.
When a nerve or nerve root is pinched or crushed sufficiently, it can result in significant discomfort, muscular weakening, and mobility issues. In more serious cases, surgery may be recommended. Nerve compression can cause bladder control or bowel function issues in rare cases, in which case emergency surgery is advised.
Your physiotherapist at Physiocare Twyford in Reading can help you figure out the specifics of your condition and whether or not you need to see a surgeon. Your physiotherapist will collaborate with your doctor or surgeon to decide the best course of action for you.
Signs and Symptoms
Lumbar radiculopathy can manifest itself in a variety of ways. The nature and location of your symptoms will be determined by the amount of pressure applied to the nerve in question (s). Among the signs and symptoms are:
- Back, hip, leg(s), and foot/feet pain and/or pressure
- A throbbing, aching, shooting, acute, dull, or scorching pain can occur.
- Back pain due to inability to bend or rotate.
- Back, hip(s), leg(s), or foot numbness or tingling.
- Leg ailment is a condition in which a person’s leg is weak (s).
- Coughing, sneezing, reaching, and sitting cause more pain.
- Inability to stand up straight; being “stuck” in a slumped forward stance.
- Having trouble getting out of a chair.
- Pain prevents you from staying in one position for lengthy periods of time, such as sitting or standing.
- Morning pain is more intense.
- Walking with a limp.
The pain or other symptoms can affect one or both limbs. They may appear in different places at different times, and their placement may alter based on your activities or body position. Walking against sitting, or lying down versus standing up, for example, can cause pain to reduce or intensify.
A full evaluation will be conducted by your physiotherapist at Physiocare Twyford in Reading, which will include taking your medical history. Your physiotherapist will also inquire about your injury in depth, such as:
- Do you have problems with your bladder or bowels? CAUTION: If you find yourself in this situation, seek medical help right away.
- When and how did the pain begin?
- Is it worse at certain times of the day?
- What kind of discomfort are you experiencing, and where are you experiencing it?
- What are you currently unable to do in your regular life as a result of your pain?
Your physiotherapist will run tests on your body to see if there are any issues, 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 any of the above difficulties are discovered by your physiotherapist at Physiocare Twyford in Reading, physiotherapy treatment may begin right away to help you get back to your typical activities.
If the results of your tests raise any concerns, your physiotherapist will discuss the necessity for more diagnostic testing, such as magnetic resonance imaging, with your doctor or surgeon (MRI). Physiotherapists collaborate closely with physicians and other health-care professionals to ensure that you get the best diagnosis, treatment, and care possible.
How a Physiotherapist at Physiocare Twyford can help?
Conservative intervention (such as Physiotherapy) often produces better and faster results than surgery or pain medication in all except the most severe cases of lumbar radiculopathy (such as opioid medication).
Your physiotherapist at Physiocare Twyford in Reading will work with you to develop a treatment plan that includes exercises and treatments that you can do at home to help you heal faster. Physiotherapy will assist you in resuming your normal activities and lifestyle. When a correct posture, pain reduction, stretching, and strengthening programme is applied, the time it takes to repair the condition varies, but on average, improvement can be obtained in 8-12 weeks.
Your physiotherapist may urge you to do the following during the first 24 to 48 hours after receiving a diagnosis of lumbar radiculopathy:
- Avoid activities that aggravate symptoms, such as hard lifting, to protect the area.
- Make sure you don’t spend too much time in bed.
- Keep yourself active by going for short walks several times a day. Movement will help you feel better by reducing pain and stiffness.
- Every 2 hours, apply ice packs to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Take a seat in a sturdy chair. Soft couches and comfortable chairs may exacerbate your issues.
- For additional services, such as medicine or diagnostic tests, consult a physician.
Some workouts are more beneficial for people who have lumbar radiculopathy. They will be explained to you by your physiotherapist.
At Physiocare in Twyford, Reading, your physiotherapist will also work with you to:
Reduce pain and other symptoms: So that recovery can begin, your physiotherapist will assist you learn how to avoid or alter the actions that caused the injury. To regulate and lessen your pain and symptoms, your therapist may utilise a variety of therapies and technology. Specific motion exercises, mechanical traction, the application of cold or heat packs, and moderate electrotherapy such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation may be part of your treatment plan, depending on your situation (TENS).
Improve motion: Your physiotherapist will recommend various exercises and treatments to help you regain normal joint movement. These may begin with “passive” motions performed by the Physiotherapist to move your spine, progressing to active exercises and stretches that you complete on your own. These motions can be done at home or at work to assist speed up healing and pain alleviation.
Improve flexibility: If any of the affected muscles are stiff, your physiotherapist will help you stretch them and teach you how to stretch them at home.
Improve strength: If your Physiotherapist discovers any weak or injured muscles, he or she will teach you the proper exercises to gradually improve your strength and agility. Exercises that develop and coordinate the muscles in your back, hips, abdomen, and pelvis are known as “core strengthening.”
Improve endurance: After an injury, it’s critical to rebuild muscular endurance. Your physiotherapist will devise an activity programme to help you regain and improve the endurance you had before to the injury.
Improve posture: Your physiotherapist will show you how to correct your posture so that pressure on the affected area is relieved and healing can begin as soon as possible.
Learn a home program: Your physiotherapist will teach you at-home strengthening, stretching, and pain-relieving exercises. These exercises will be tailored to your unique needs, and if you follow your Physiotherapist’s instructions, you can speed up your recuperation.
Return to activities: Your physiotherapist at Physiocare in Twyford, Reading, will talk to you about your activity levels and utilise them to develop work, sport, and home-life recovery goals for you. Your treatment plan will assist you in achieving your objectives in the safest, quickest, and most effective manner possible. Your Physiotherapist may teach you proper lifting techniques (called “body mechanics”) to assist protect your spine from exacerbating symptoms if you have lumbar radiculopathy.
Once your pain has subsided or vanished, it is critical that you maintain your new posture and movement patterns in order to keep your back healthy and pain-free.
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