How do you know if your back pain has become chronic?
All of us have pulled a back muscle at some point, needing to spend a day or two cozied up to an ice pack and a heating pad. But when serious back and lower body pain, as well as stiffness or numbness problems, make it hard to function, you may well have sciatica.
What is sciatica?
When nerves in your lower back become pinched or compressed, the resulting pain, tingling and numbness affect your back, buttocks, groin and legs. Often, you’ll feel it on one side only.
Several underlying causes can result in this nerve compression in your lower back. In most cases, it’s a bone spur or herniated disc pressing into the nerve, but sciatica has also been known to occur when a tumor grows in the area, or when there’s spinal degeneration and narrowing, which can happen with age.
What types of physical therapy treat back pain and sciatica?
Working on strength, flexibility and circulation are all crucial components to treating sciatic back and lower body pain. Among the most common categories of treatments for sciatica in physical therapy are:
- Low-impact aerobics, to encourage circulation of nutrients and body fluids (as well pain-killing endorphins) to the areas that need it most. Most aerobic activity can be done outside of your physical therapy session, including walking or swimming, but your therapist can show you methods to work around your sciatic stiffness and pain as you do so.
- Stretching exercises, to boost flexibility. Sciatica often causes spasms, tightness and limited range of motion in your back and legs. Various moves, such as hamstring stretches and lower-back moves like the “cobra” or the sitting torso twist, will loosen muscles and boost mobility.
- Strength building moves, to tone the tendons, ligaments and columns that support your spine. Working your abs, hips and glutes will all result in a stronger core that resists lower back pain and sciatica.
Ready to eradicate your pain?
Our patients are often referred to us by their primary physicians or by a specialist, and we’ll continue to work with your medical team to treat the specific cause of your pain. Our highly trained physical therapists will also give you a full evaluation, including a spinal alignment assessment, simple tests to evaluate muscle strength in the areas that support your back and lower body, and range-of-motion evaluations.
To get started on your back pain and sciatica relief treatment plan, call our dedicated team of physical therapists today.