Back pain and sciatica are often related. Sciatica causes back pain, numbness and weakness that radiates along the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a big nerve that travels the full length of the body, following the lumbar region of the back and down the leg all the way to the feet. Pain begins in the lower back and typically travels to the buttocks and leg. Sciatica pain is sharp and searing. Most sciatica symptoms are a direct result of lower back abnormalities between the L4 and S1 or rotation in your pelvis. Pressure is usually put upon the lumbar nerve root. It is important to note that sciatica is a symptom of an underlying problem. It is not a diagnosis in itself.
Causes of Sciatica
There can be a variety of root causes of sciatica such as a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, facet joint dysfunction, osteoarthritis and more. The center of a lumbar disc is filled with a jelly-like substance that can break through the outer layer and press on a nearby nerve root. This nerve compression can cause nerve root pain in the back. Keep in mind that the disc walls are abundant with nerve fibers. Any tear through the wall can cause severe pain. As people age, the lumbar discs lose hydration and wear down. There is no cushion for any impact. Tears can also develop and cause pain. This condition is known as degenerative disc disease. People with a herniated disc often have pain with bending forward and gets some relief with bending backwards. People with degenerative disc disease often have more pain with extended standing and may get relief with bending forward.
Facet joint dysfunction can also cause back pain and sciatica. If the cartilage of these joints is damaged or not functioning properly, the end result can be back pain or sciatica. Osteoarthritis is associated with aging. It is a condition that gradually progresses. The discs and facet joints are worn down. It causes back pain, swelling and instability. Any trauma or compression fracture can result in sciatica, such as a car accident or a fall. People with facet joint dysfunction will have more of pinch sensation with pain during certain movements.
An often missed cause of low back pain and sciatica like symptoms is pelvic rotation or dysfunction. The area where your spine meets your lower extremity is called your SacroIliac Joint. If there is rotation in this area it will cause symptoms that are similar to true sciatica. People with this issue will have more pain with sitting and with transitional movements.
Living with back pain is no fun. Getting an evaluation by our physical therapists is crucial in determining where your pain is coming from and what other things may be contributing to your pain and lack of function.
Call us when you’re ready to begin working on methods for getting rid of your back pain. Our dedicated team of physical therapists will evaluate your condition and design a course of treatment.
Physical Therapy Services
Our physical therapists perform a personalized evaluation to determine the causes of your back pain and dysfunction. We use many techniques and forms of treatment to help eliminate sciatica. Treatment may include mobilizations, McKenzie-based therapy, manual therapy, spinal stabilization, core strengthening exercises, traction or nerve glides. These are active types of physical therapy treatment. Passive types of physical therapy treatment include , electrical muscle stimulation, massage, myofascial release, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, dry needling, cold laser and heat or ice therapy. Deep tissue massage targets muscle tension that may be compressing the sciatic nerve. Low level laser treatment sends concentrated light waves into muscle tissues to increase circulation and reduce pain, swelling and muscle spasms. Hot and cold therapies help reduce spasms that may be causing both back pain and sciatica pain.
The goal of our physical therapists is to help manage and eliminate pain from sciatica, improve flexibility, improve range of motion and restore the patient back to normal function. Relief for lower back pain is on the way with the help of a physical therapist. In many cases physical therapy will result in effective and long lasting sciatica pain relief and back pain relief. It’s an effective treatment without the use of drugs or surgery. Get back pain relief today with the help of a physical therapist.