Sciatica and Low Back Relief
Is Back Pain or Sciatica Interfering with Your Quality of Life and Making the Simplest of Tasks Unbearable? Let Physical Therapy Help!
- Physical Therapy is one of the first recommended treatments for low back pain by the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Research supports early intervention with physical therapy is key for low back pain and Sciatica relief
- The CDC reports therapeutic exercise can reduce risk of recurrent low back pain between 25 to 40 percent1
Are you waking with low back pain or stiffness each morning? Is your sleep interrupted due to low back pain? Are you suffering from achy pain that reaches into your back, buttocks, or even thigh or lower leg? Are you having to watch what you do because you fear you may hurt your back? Well, you’re not alone.
The American Physical Therapy Association reports that low back pain is the most commonly reported pain across the nation. One of every four Americans have experienced low back pain in the last three months. And throughout the course of life, 80% of people will experience low back pain.
Symptoms of Low Back Pain and Sciatica
Low back pain and sciatica are often confused with each other. In general, low back pain occurs at the area from the high waist down to the beltline and may cause pain, ache or stiffness into the buttock or back of the hips. “Sciatica” itself tends to be used for any pain or other symptoms radiating down the leg into the buttock, back of the thigh, and even into the back and outside of the leg and foot. However, this diagnosis – sciatica – is overused and tends to be a catch-all diagnosis for any of the aforementioned symptoms down into the leg. A true sciatica has a specific predictable course of symptoms and occurs if and only when the sciatic nerve in fact is affected. Which is not too frequent. Not all pain or other symptoms – numbness, tingling, diffuse ache, burning – are always truly “sciatica”. Our low back pain and sciatica physical therapist specialists are well versed in diagnosing and differentiating specific causes of low back pain and symptoms into one’s lower extremity and if a true sciatica is involved.
’Radiculopathy’ is often a source of symptoms in the buttock, thigh, leg and even the ankle/foot. This can be decreased sensation, burning, sharp searing pain as well as weakness that occurs along a specific pathway into the lower extremity. Common causes are a herniated (“ruptured”) disc, stenosis (narrowing of the canal a nerve runs through out of the low back) or other entrapment of the nerve as it leaves the spine.
Are you needing treatment for long-term back pain, sciatica, or radiculopathy relief? Medication, particularly strong opioids with addictive potential that will only mask symptoms is not the answer. The CDC steers physicians away from opioid prescription and stresses the importance of early intervention using physical therapy. Research supports that with physical therapy there are reduced costs and visits to the physician, reduced need for medications or expensive imaging, and reduced need for surgery.
Recover from your pain faster and get back to doing the things you love with early physical therapy. Physical therapy should be your first treatment of choice. Contact Rose City Physical Therapy today to get started with your personal physical therapy program!
Causes of Low Back Pain, Sciatica or Radiculopathy
There are numerous causes of low back pain, sciatica or radiculopathy. Common are injuries from repetitive use or trauma, or progressive degenerative changes across the lifespan such as osteoarthritis – the “wear and tear” arthritis. There are other less common causes that our low back pain specialists at Rose City Physical Therapy are well versed in and include in their differential diagnosis as a possible cause of the pain. Some of these can be serious medical conditions including cancer, organ pathology or infection and require medical attention beyond that which physical therapy can offer.
Low Back Pain Due to Injury
Injury can be due to repetitive motion, especially if you are weak through the hips, low back or core, or moving with a twisting component while lifting, pushing or pulling; or due to a one-time traumatic injury such as a motor vehicle auto accident. Low backs are inherently resilient and can handle a lot of load and demand. However, excessive repetitive motion with faulty body mechanics can take its toll and lead to injury.
Low Back Pain Due to Degenerative Conditions
The second common cause mentioned above is degenerative arthritis. Degenerative arthritis is a normal process that occurs with age. Imaging studies report that normal healthy individuals with no history of low back pain or sciatica, and no injury history, reveal a certain degree of degenerative change in the low back as young as the mid-30’s; that which becomes more pronounced as we age. Basically, we wrinkle and grey on the outside…and we ‘wrinkle and grey’ on the inside too. The degenerative process includes disc degeneration, disc herniation, bone spurs, stenosis, and ligament thickening. If any of these normal processes advance beyond a certain degree – a process called degradation – they can become a cause of low back pain, sciatica or radiculopathy.
Specific underlying conditions, such as herniated discs, can also cause immense pain and cause radiculopathy (“pinched nerve”) symptoms into the thigh, leg, or foot. Degenerative disc disease, which can result in back pain is a common condition that begins to show itself as we get older. Again, a normal aging process but if we strain our back or over time it becomes advanced. This condition typically causes dull, aching pains in the lower back, morning stiffness, and difficulty with standing or walking for long periods of time.
Tight hips as well as weakness at the hips or core are related to low back pain also. It’s not uncommon that people lose their flexibility in the hips over time, either at the muscles surrounding the hip or more so the tissue surrounding the deep hip joint – the capsule and ligaments – or the hip joint itself from arthritis . This tightening and weakening alters the mechanics of the spine, often overloading the spine as it accommodates for the stiffness below it at the hips, and can cause low back pain.
Get Your Low Back Pain Under Control with Physical Therapy!
For many people, low back pain will be fleeting. Most low back pain is short lived and resolves on its own. However, what many don’t know is that underlying problems of poor movement, core and hip weakness, and poor muscle coordination or body mechanics are all a catalyst for recurrent low back pain and injury, which can be significantly worse.
Low back pain is treatable through physical therapy. At Rose City Physical Therapy, centrally located in Portland, OR our physical therapists create a personalized treatment plan that will be tailored to you. The early stages of your treatment will focus on quick pain relief as well as a ton of education on your low back pain and management strategies, from sleeping positions, early safe movement and activity, expected course of recovery, embracing the pain and not becoming fearful of it, and home exercises.
As your pain reduces, treatment shifts toward an active approach to restore range of motion at your back and hips, strengthening your core and hips, with specific therapeutic exercises and stretches, and functional movement replicating natural ways to move as well as task-specific ways for your daily activities, recreation/sport, or work. With these exercises and techniques, the goal will be to increase your strength and range of motion to reduce re-injury risk. Last, we teach you the ins-and-outs of ergonomics related to specific tasks that are part of your daily life, and ways to make sure you know how to take care of your spine in order to avoid future problems.
If you are suffering from low back pain, sciatica, or shooting pain, tingling or numbness down the leg , our physical therapists can help you get back to doing the things you love.
No matter how severe the pain may be, we will help you get on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. Make low back pain, radiculopathy, and sciatica a thing of the past and request an appointment with one of our specialists at Rose City Physical Therapy today! For further information on how we can help, check out this blog article on back pain and sciatica