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 PHYSIOTHERAPY 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 physiotherapy 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 physiotherapy session, including walking or swimming, but your physiotherapist 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 physiotherapists 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, make an appointment at our Saskatoon, SK clinic.
The pain you experience in your back may either be acute or chronic, depending on how it was sustained. Acute pain means that it lasts for a short time and is usually severe. Chronic pain means that it lasts generally three months or longer and it can either cause dull or severe persistent pain. The pain you experience is typically either rooted in your back muscles or the bones in your spine. If your pain is severe enough to hinder you from doing daily tasks, if it suddenly worsens, or if it has lasted longer than three months, then it is time to seek the help of a physical therapist.
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.
Your physical therapist will design a treatment plan based on your specific needs. Your individualized treatment plan will incorporate the best methods possible for relieving your pain, facilitating the healing process, and restoring function and movement to the affected area(s) of your back. Your initial appointment will consist of a comprehensive evaluation, which will help your physical therapist discover which forms of treatment will be best for the orthopedic, neurologic, or cardiovascular condition you are experiencing. The main stages of your plan will focus on pain relief, which may include any combination of ice and heat therapies, manual therapy, posture improvement, targeted stretches and exercises, or any other treatment that your physical therapist may deem fit. While there is no singular method for relieving back pain, your physical therapist will make sure you receive the best treatments for your needs.
While medication is easy, it only helps your pain subside for a short amount of time. Over time, certain drugs can cause some unfavorable side effects, and in some cases, they can be habit-forming. With NSAIDs, you run the risk of blood clots, heart attack, or stroke. With corticosteroids, you run the risk of cataracts, high blood sugar levels, and bone loss. Luckily, there is a much safer and healthier alternative to treating persistent back pain: physical therapy. At your initial consultation, your physical therapist will ask you several questions regarding your medical history, lifestyle, and painful area(s). This information will assist your physical therapist in creating the best treatment plan for you and your specific needs, so you can be provided with long-term results.