Do you suffer from a back injury or ailment that makes every little movement or jolt an agonizing experience? Does your lower back, buttock, leg, and/or foot keep blindsiding you with pain and other bizarre sensations? Back pain and the nerve problem known as sciatica may occur either together or as a disabling package deal. When these symptoms strike, it's natural to respond not only with frustration but also with fear — fear that relief might depend on extensive, invasive, risky surgery. But we have some good news for you: Most back pain and sciatica causes respond well to nonsurgical methods, including the physical therapy techniques we offer at High Desert Physical Therapy.
What are back pain and sciatica?You may not feel that you need a definition of back pain if you're living with it every day. But there are many varieties of back pain, which is no surprise when you consider the number of complex moving parts that make up the back. The center of this structure is the spinal column. This stack of articulated vertebrae is articulated by facet joints, cushioned by cartilaginous discs, and supported/mobilized by strong muscles and connective tissues. It doesn't take much to go wrong with this assembly for back pain to result. You can experience back pain in your upper and middle back (the thoracic spine) or the lower back (the lumbar and sacral spine). Your pain may also be either acute, resolving itself once an underlying problem heals up, or chronic, with recurring or constant pain over months or years.
Sciatica is a dysfunction of the sciatic nerve or its nerve roots. The sciatic nerve is an enormous nerve that relays all the motor commands and sensory impulses to and from either leg. When this nerve tissue becomes pinched for any reason, the flow of information along its length is disrupted. Sciatica is notorious for causing pain, tingling sensations, numbness, and loss of strength or motor control in the buttock, leg or foot. It can also cause lower back pain.
Causes of back pain and sciaticaAs noted above, sciatic nerve impingement can cause low back pain. But you can also experience back pain and/or sciatica due to:
- Weight gain and postural problems: Pregnancy, obesity and weak muscles in the back can cause postural changes that strain your back muscles.
- Degenerative disc disease: Facet joint arthritis, bulging discs, and other degenerative changes in the spine can pinch the sciatic nerve and cause back pain.
- Herniated discs: A herniated disc can push against the nerve roots that tether the sciatic nerve to the spine while also spilling inflammatory substances onto them.
- Acute injuries: An auto accident, work accident, or sports injury can tear the back muscles and connective tissues.
- Repetitive motion injuries: If you're constantly twisting, stooping or making other stressful back motions at work or in sports, you could be straining your back and giving yourself a repetitive motion injury.
How Pocatello physical therapy give back pain relief and sciatica pain relief
Don't frighten yourself by reading about major surgical procedures that treat back pain and sciatica by removing discs or fusing joints. Studies show that for most patients, physical therapy can treat these issues just as effectively as surgery.
Our Pocatello physical therapist at High Desert Physical Therapy will perform detailed evaluations to determine exactly what the underlying cause is, from a strained muscle to compression of a specific nerve root. Our physical therapist can then administer the right mix of therapies to restore your comfort. Your treatment regimen may include corrective exercises to lend strength and flexibility to your back, ice packs and water exercises to ease sciatica, and lifestyle recommendations to help you avoid repetitive motion injuries.
You have more control over your back pain and sciatica symptoms than you might think — especially when you have access to a skilled, experienced physical therapist. Are you ready to give your back and legs the nonsurgical relief they need? Contact us at Pocatello, ID center today to schedule an evaluation and find out how physical therapy can help you feel like yourself again.