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 physical 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, Contact us.
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.