Best physical therapist for sciatica in Anchorage

May 12, 2018

Who is the best physical therapist (PT) in Anchorage to see for treating and getting rid of sciatica and low back pain? Let’s look at what criteria you as a patient should look for when deciding who will be the best for you and where to go. Keep in mind there are always exceptions, but these are good guidelines to follow if you want good care.

Let’s start with what you don’t want.

How about manual therapy? Why don’t you want it? Although it can be effective,  it doesn't teach you how to treat yourself. Sure, you got better, and that’s good, but you didn't learn how to treat your own pain. Do you want to rely on someone else for your well being, or would you rather have the tools to care for yourself? If you're on vacation somewhere, your PT is not going to be there to help you using manual therapy. However, if you choose a PT using a patient driven model you will be able to self manage. Like that proverb says "give a man a fish, and he eats for the day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for life".

How about massage therapy? Although it can feel good at the time, often it’s only treating the symptoms (muscle spasm and tightness). Muscles don’t get get tight and go into spasm for no reason. They do so to protect something. Taking that protection away can at times do more harm than good. You want to treat the cause, not the symptoms.

How about core strengthening, stretching, and range of motion exercises? Yeah, that may not be in your best interest. At least not right off the bat and certainly not at the same time. Why not? First off it’s too much. If you get 5 exercises to do and you get worse (or better), what did you learn?  Do you need all five exercises, or just one? Did you not get better because two exercises wiped away the good done by the other three? Treatment is better when it’s precise, and properly timed. This allows the clinician  make good clinical decisions on more precise and accurate information.

So what DO you want? You should look for a few things. First off, choose a place that treats this all the time. Inquire as to what percentage of their patients have sciatica. We have “Spine treatment center” in our name for a reason. We do a ton of it with over 75% of the patients we see every day having low back pain (or neck pain) and often some form of radiculopathy (sciatica, pain down the leg, or down the arm from the neck).

Second, look for someone who uses a system, or specific approach. The shotgun approach and a collective array of techniques might get some people better, but what you should seek is someone who uses a systematic approach.  We use the McKenzie method. Why, because it’s been proven over time, and it’s streamlined. There is a direct cause and effect relationship that guides your care. Someone using a weapon with a scope and who can clearly identify the target will usually get a better outcome than someone using a shotgun and just spraying bullets all over.

Lastly, expect change, often rapid change for the better. Generally speaking with sciatic pain you should see improvement rather rapidly. At our clinic if you are not getting better inside of a week or two, we need to figure out why. Rapid improvement (even at the first visit) is not uncommon. There are times it could take weeks, but as general rule if you’re not seeing improvement than we need to change something, or you may not be a good candidate for conservative care. Some people may need something like an injection to get the recovery going and the sooner you know that the faster you will get better. Please don’t attend PT (or any treatment) for months on end expecting something to finally change and get better. Results should be forthcoming from the get go. mind you it isn't always resolved rapidly, but you should see a trend and be learning techniques that improve your pain and or function in relatively short order.

I hope this helps. If you have questions feel to contact our office. We are happy to discuss what we do and why as well as if we think we can help you (907) 561-1711.

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