Back Pain and Sciatica
Back pain comes in all shapes and sizes. It may be chronic, acute or sudden. Lower back pain is very common with age and can limit your daily activities. Physical therapy can help with many different types of back pain. The first step is determining the cause of your pain.
The Relationship Between Back Pain and Sciatica
Sciatica is often caused by a herniated disc in the lower back. The vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine. Round discs of connective tissues separate and cushion the vertebrae. If a disc gets injured or overused, it’s center can push out from the hard-outer ring. This is when the disc herniates. It puts pressure on the surrounding nerves and causes a lot of pain. The most characteristic sign of sciatica is that the pain runs from the lower back to the side or back of the legs. Other symptoms include sharp pain, tingling and numbness in the leg. Any impingement of it can cause pain in the lower back, legs and feet.
Some doctors refer to sciatica as radiculopathy. Radiculopathy occurs not only when there is compression of a nerve root due to a herniated disc, but it can occur due to a bone spur. In addition, compression of a nerve root can occur due to a bulging disc, trauma, spinal tumors and lumbar spinal stenosis.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Back Pain and Sciatica
The goals of any physical therapy treatment plan are to reduce pain, increase function and provide a maintenance program for back pain and sciatica. The exercise regimen may consist of strengthening, stretching and aerobic conditioning. Core muscle training is also a part of a good lower back pain treatment plan. It’s important that these exercises are done properly and consistently.
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There are a large number of conditions that can result in back pain. For example, poor posture, car accidents, and sports-related injuries are just a few of the ways that someone may develop back pain. Injury is the most common cause of back pain. This can happen in one of two ways: 1) an instant, sudden trauma, such as a car accident, or 2) repetitive use that puts excessive stress on the back over time, such as bending down several times throughout the week to pick up boxes. Some other factors that may contribute to your back pain include degenerative disc disease, lumbar spinal stenosis, fractures, herniated disc, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and tumors of the spine.
Back pain commonly results from a muscle strain or injury; however, it can also develop as a result of an underlying condition, such as a herniated disc, sciatica, or degenerative disc disease. Poor posture, car accidents, and sports-related injuries are also common ways that someone may develop back pain. Your physical therapist will focus on treating the root of your back pain, in order to help you regain mobility, function, and comfort.
You can treat your back pain with physical therapy. Physical therapy can address back pain by helping to improve your range of motion, strengthening the muscles in the affected areas, and using targeted massage to reduce tension. In many situations, working with a physical therapist to improve can significantly reduce the severity of your back pain, and may even help you avoid more invasive procedures, such as surgery.
It is common that the muscles used to support the lower back may become weakened from inactivity. We’ll prescribe targeted, easy-to-do exercises that we will walk you through, in order to help your back muscles regain their strength. This will help provide greater support to your spine and reduce any inflammation you may be experiencing. While the best exercises for your back pain are relative to your specific conditions, some common ones your physical therapist may have you do include spine stretches, bridges, and pelvic tilts.