Sciatic Pain Not Going Away? You Might Need to Check Out Your Pelvic Floor

By Dr. Zarina Vitebsky, DPT, MSPT, PRPC, TPS, LPF, DN on 10/10/2023


Sciatica is a common medical condition that causes pain in the lower back, hips, and legs. It is often described as a shooting or burning pain that radiates from the lower back down to the leg, and can range from mild discomfort to debilitating agony. This condition is caused by pressure or irritation on the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the lower back through the hips and down the legs. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc in the lower back, which occurs when the soft inner material of a spinal disc protrudes through the tough outer layer and presses on the sciatic nerve. Other potential causes include spinal stenosis, where the spinal canal narrows and compresses the nerve, and piriformis syndrome, which is when the piriformis muscle in the buttocks irritates the nerve.

While there are various treatment options for sciatica, one that has gained attention in recent years is pelvic floor therapy. Pelvic floor therapy is a type of physical therapy that focuses on strengthening and relaxing the muscles in the pelvic floor, which includes the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and rectum. This therapy can be beneficial for people with sciatica because the pelvic floor muscles are closely connected to the muscles in the lower back and hips, and tension in these muscles can contribute to sciatic nerve irritation.

In this article, we will delve into the benefits of pelvic floor therapy for sciatica and how it can be used as a treatment option. We will explore the various techniques and exercises used in pelvic floor therapy, and how they can help relieve pain and promote healing. Additionally, we will discuss the potential causes of sciatica and how pelvic floor therapy can target these underlying issues. Moreover, we will also address the correlation between sciatica and pelvic floor dysfunction. Many people with sciatica also experience pelvic floor problems, such as urinary incontinence or pelvic pain. Pelvic floor therapy can address both these conditions simultaneously, providing comprehensive treatment and improving overall quality of life. Lastly, we will highlight the importance of seeking professional guidance when considering pelvic floor therapy for sciatica. It is essential to work with a trained and specialized therapist who can assess your individual needs and develop a personalized treatment plan. Additionally, we will discuss when to seek medical advice and when pelvic floor therapy may not be suitable.

In summary, this article will provide a thorough exploration of sciatica and pelvic floor therapy as a treatment option. We hope to educate and inform readers about the potential benefits of this therapy and provide a comprehensive understanding of how it can be used to manage and alleviate sciatic nerve pain.

Understanding Sciatica and its Impact on the Pelvic Floor

Defining Sciatica

Sciatica is a common condition that is characterized by pain, numbness, or tingling sensations that radiate along the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the body, running from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the back of each leg. Sciatica occurs when this nerve is compressed or irritated, leading to the symptoms mentioned above.

How Sciatica Can Affect the Pelvic Floor Muscles

The pelvic floor muscles play a crucial role in supporting the pelvic organs, maintaining continence, and facilitating sexual function. These muscles are also closely connected to the nerves and tissues surrounding the sciatic nerve. When the sciatic nerve is affected, it can disrupt the function of the pelvic floor muscles. Sciatic nerve compression can cause changes in these muscles, such as tightness or weakness, leading to a variety of symptoms. For example, the deep muscles of the pelvic floor can become tight in response to pain in the lower back or buttocks. This tension can then cause muscle spasms, trigger points, and decreased blood flow to the area. On the other hand, if the sciatic nerve is damaged, it can cause weakness in the pelvic floor muscles, leading to insufficient support for the pelvic organs and potential urinary or fecal incontinence.

Potential Consequences of Untreated Sciatica on the Pelvic Floor

Untreated sciatica can have several consequences on the pelvic floor, including incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and pelvic pain.

  1. Incontinence:

    When the pelvic floor muscles are affected by sciatica, they may not function properly. This can lead to a decrease in bladder and bowel control, causing urinary incontinence (leakage of urine) or fecal incontinence (leakage of stool).

  2. Sexual Dysfunction:

    The pelvic floor muscles are also essential for sexual function. A decrease in muscle strength caused by sciatica can lead to difficulties with arousal, orgasm, and pain during intercourse. Additionally, sciatic nerve pain itself can be a barrier to sexual function as it can make certain positions or activities uncomfortable.

  3. Pelvic Pain:

    Sciatica can also cause referred pain in the pelvis, which may be mistaken for urinary or gynecological issues. The pain may also be felt in the buttocks, hips, or thighs, making it difficult to determine the source of discomfort. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety and impact one's overall quality of life. Moreover, the consequences of sciatica on the pelvic floor can also lead to a vicious cycle. Pain and discomfort in the pelvic floor can further aggravate sciatic nerve compression, leading to more symptoms and decreased function.

In conclusion, sciatica is a condition that can have a significant impact on the pelvic floor muscles, leading to incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and pelvic pain. It is essential to address sciatic nerve issues to prevent long-term consequences on the pelvic floor. Seeking treatment from a pelvic floor therapist can help alleviate sciatic nerve pain and improve the function of the pelvic floor muscles, resulting in improved overall quality of life.

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles located at the bottom of the pelvis that play a crucial role in supporting the organs of the pelvic region, as well as aiding in bladder and bowel control. When these muscles become weak or dysfunctional, it can lead to a variety of issues, including pelvic pain and dysfunction. However, many people may not realize that pelvic floor therapy can also be beneficial in treating sciatica, a condition characterized by pain, numbness, and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, and legs. Pelvic floor therapy, also known as pelvic floor rehabilitation, is a specialized form of physical therapy that focuses on improving the function and strength of the pelvic floor muscles. This type of therapy is often recommended for individuals experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction, which can include a variety of conditions such as incontinence, prolapse, and sexual dysfunction. However, it has also been found to be an effective treatment for sciatica. One of the ways in which pelvic floor therapy can help alleviate sciatica symptoms is by improving the overall strength and function of the pelvic floor muscles. When these muscles are weak or tight, it can lead to imbalances in the body, causing added strain on the lower back and contributing to sciatic nerve pain. Through targeted exercises and techniques, pelvic floor therapy can help strengthen and lengthen these muscles, helping to alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve and reduce pain. Manual therapy techniques, such as massage and myofascial release, may also be utilized in pelvic floor therapy for sciatica treatment. By releasing tension and trigger points in the pelvic floor muscles, these techniques can help reduce pain and increase mobility and flexibility in the lower back and hips. The benefits of pelvic floor therapy for sciatica treatment are numerous. In addition to improving muscle strength and flexibility, pelvic floor therapy can also help improve coordination and posture, which can further reduce strain on the sciatic nerve. It can also be beneficial for individuals experiencing urinary or fecal incontinence as a result of sciatica, as strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can also help improve bladder and bowel control. In conclusion, pelvic floor therapy is a valuable treatment option for individuals suffering from sciatica. By addressing the underlying muscle imbalances and dysfunction in the pelvic floor, this form of therapy can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall function and quality of life. If you are experiencing sciatica, be sure to consult with a qualified pelvic floor therapist to determine if this form of treatment may be beneficial for you.

Incorporating Pelvic Floor Therapy into a Treatment Plan for Sciatica

Sciatica is a condition that can be incredibly debilitating for those who suffer from it. The intense pain and discomfort that radiates from the lower back down through the buttocks and into the legs can greatly impact one's daily life. While various forms of treatment such as medications, chiropractic adjustments, and physical therapy can provide relief, incorporating pelvic floor therapy into a treatment plan for sciatica can also be highly beneficial.

How Pelvic Floor Therapy Can Be Integrated into a Comprehensive Treatment Plan for Sciatica

Pelvic floor therapy is a specialized form of therapy that focuses on the muscles, joints, and tissues of the pelvic floor. This area of the body is often overlooked, yet it plays a vital role in our overall health and well-being. The pelvic floor muscles support the pelvic organs, control bowel and bladder function, and are involved in sexual function. When these muscles are weak, overactive, or imbalanced, it can contribute to or exacerbate sciatica symptoms. By incorporating pelvic floor therapy into a comprehensive treatment plan for sciatica, the therapist can address any underlying pelvic floor issues that may be contributing to the sciatic pain. This holistic approach can lead to more effective and long-lasting results.

How the Individualized Approach of Pelvic Floor Therapy Can Benefit Sciatica Patients

One of the key benefits of pelvic floor therapy is its individualized approach. Each person's pelvic floor is unique, and therefore, each treatment plan is tailored to their specific needs. The therapist will assess the patient's pelvic floor muscles, identify any imbalances or dysfunctions, and then develop a personalized treatment plan. For sciatica patients, this means that any underlying pelvic floor issues that may be contributing to their pain can be addressed. This individualized approach can result in a more comprehensive and targeted treatment plan, leading to better outcomes for the patient.

Examples of Exercises and Techniques That May Be Used in a Pelvic Floor Therapy Treatment Plan for Sciatica

There are various exercises and techniques that a pelvic floor therapist may use in a treatment plan for sciatica. These can include pelvic floor muscle exercises, also known as Kegels, to strengthen the muscles and improve their coordination. Trigger point release, where pressure is applied to specific points in the pelvic floor to release tension, can also be helpful in relieving sciatic pain. In some cases, biofeedback may be used to assist in improving muscle control and coordination. This involves using sensors to provide real-time feedback to the patient on their muscle activity. By becoming more aware of their pelvic floor muscles, patients can learn to relax and use them more effectively. Additionally, stretching and strengthening exercises for the surrounding muscles, such as the hips, glutes, and core, may be incorporated into the treatment plan to improve overall stability and reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve. In conclusion, incorporating pelvic floor therapy into a treatment plan for sciatica can be highly beneficial. By addressing any underlying pelvic floor issues and using a personalized approach, patients can experience improved pain relief and overall function.

It is essential to consult with a qualified pelvic floor therapist and work closely with your healthcare team to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses all aspects of your sciatica.

Proper Diagnosis and Individualized Treatment Plan for Sciatica

When it comes to treating sciatica, it is crucial to have a correct diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan. Though pelvic floor therapy has shown to be effective in managing sciatica symptoms, the underlying cause of sciatica can vary greatly and must be addressed specifically. For example, sciatica caused by a herniated disc may require a different approach than one caused by a spinal stenosis. Therefore, it is recommended to seek the guidance of a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist, to properly diagnose the root cause of your sciatica and create a customized treatment plan for your specific needs.

Other Additional Treatments and Lifestyle Changes

In addition to pelvic floor therapy, there are several other treatments and lifestyle modifications that may be recommended for managing sciatica. These may include chiropractic care, massage therapy, and acupuncture, which can help alleviate pain and improve mobility. Physical therapies, such as low-impact exercises and stretching, can also aid in strengthening the muscles and reducing pressure on the affected nerves. Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining good posture and avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, can also help alleviate the symptoms of sciatica.

Potential Limitations and Risks of Pelvic Floor Therapy for Sciatica Treatment

While pelvic floor therapy has shown to be an effective treatment for sciatica, it is important to note that it may not be suitable for everyone. One of the potential limitations of pelvic floor therapy is that it may not be effective for cases where the sciatica is caused by a spinal stenosis or other structural issues. Additionally, there are potential risks involved with any type of therapy, such as muscle soreness or irritation of the affected area. Therefore, it is imperative to consult a healthcare professional before undergoing pelvic floor therapy to ensure its suitability for your specific condition and to minimize any potential risks.


In summary, sciatica can be a debilitating condition that affects daily life and mobility. Fortunately, the use of pelvic floor therapy has shown great promise in alleviating the symptoms of sciatica and improving overall quality of life. However, it is important to stress the significance of a proper diagnosis and tailored treatment plan for effective management of sciatica. Along with pelvic floor therapy, other treatments and lifestyle changes may also be recommended. Lastly, seeking the guidance of a healthcare professional is vital to ensure the safety and effectiveness of pelvic floor therapy and to properly address the underlying cause of your sciatica. With the right approach, sciatica and pelvic floor therapy can be effectively managed and significantly improve one's physical and emotional well-being.

Are you someone that suffers from sciatic pain and/or pelvic floor dysfunction? Call us here at Pelvic Health Center in Madison, NJ and set up an appointment with one of our skilled therapists at 908-443-9880 or email us at

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