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Lumbar radiculitis is the irritation or inflammation of the nerve root in the lumbar spine and the sacrum that can cause numerous pain in different parts of your body, including your lower back and one side of the hip, leg or foot, according to Dr. Stuart McGill, author of "Low Back Disorders." Physical therapy treatment identifies the cause of pain and the therapist prescribes corrective exercises to alleviate the pain and improve your movement to prevent pain recurrence.

Sciatic Pain

Lumbar radiculitis often comes in the form of sciatica, which is the irritation of the sciatic nerve that originates in the sacrum and branches out to either side of your buttocks and down to your legs and feet. This can be caused by either the irritation and compression of the nerve in the lumbar and sacral region or in the piriformis, which is a muscle deep in your buttocks that runs along the sciatic nerve, according to physical therapist Ron Miller, contributing writer for


Before any treatment is made, the physical therapist collects a health history of determine if you have any history of back pain, joint diseases and injuries. This allows the therapist to determine the best method to treat the pain since different causes require different approaches, whether the pain is from spinal stenosis, arthritis, herniated discs or poor posture. Oftentimes, a straight-leg raise is performed to test for pain in the lower spine and hip joint. Depending on the severity of pain and other health conditions, you may need to get additional tests, such as a magnetic resonance imaging scan or a computed tomography scan, to check for nerve damage and disc hernia.


Many physical therapists use corrective exercise to address the source of the pain rather than just the symptoms. Instead of looking at the lower spine and pelvis, corrective exercise also address how the entire body is aligned in a standing position and how your body moves together, such as by performing an overhead squat or walking in a straight line. This helps the therapist determine the cause of pain and prescribe an exercise treatment plan for you. For example, if you have right hip pain near the back of your upper thigh and in your left shoulder, corrective exercise training may address the lumbar spine and pelvic floor misalignment first before addressing the hip and shoulder pain. Opening the nerve roots and increasing tissue and joint mobility decreases nerve compressing, which reduces or eliminates pain in your hip and shoulder.

Sample Exercise

Opening up your nerve canals can alleviate the nerve compression. Each person has different health and fitness levels and different causes of lumbar radiculitis. However, one exercise that may be beneficial is the supine lumbar rotation. Lie on the ground on your back with your legs bent and your feet together on the ground. Rock your knees and pelvis side to side in a slow, rhythmic manner. There should be very little movement in the lumbar spine.

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