According to the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, back pain is the most commonly reported pain across the nation, and one out of every four Canadian has experienced back pain in the past three months.
Back pain and sciatica differ but are often confused with each other. Back is specific to the upper, middle or lower back. Sciatica is a more diffuse, radiating pain down the buttock, thigh, and even leg. It is also possible to have radiculopathy, which is a radiating numbness, tingling, burning, or sharp pain to a specific part of the leg. This is often associated with a herniated disc, or entrapment of the nerve of that area, as it exits the spine.
If you’re searching for back pain relief or sciatica relief, don’t rely on medicines to mask the symptoms. Your body is telling you there is a deeper root cause that needs to be fixed. Know that, physiotherapy should be your first treatment of choice. It eliminates your need for harmful painkilling drugs and possibly will help you to avoid an invasive surgical procedure in the future.
General back pain typically develops as the result of an injury. This can be due to repetitive straining motions, such as leaning down multiple times throughout the day to pick up a toddler, or a more serious, sudden trauma, such as a motor vehicle accident. Underlying conditions, such as herniated discs, can also cause immense pain, and cause radiculopathy pain to the thigh, leg, or foot. Degenerative disc disease is a common condition that presents itself as we age, which can result in back pain. Those with this condition typically report dull, aching pains in their lower back, and have difficulty with prolonged standing or walking.
People who develop this condition are generally between the ages of 30 and 50. Many different types of injuries can cause the development of sciatica, including arthritis, bone spurs, or any other injury that impacts the sciatic nerve. Most commonly, we find that people lose their flexibility in the hips and pelvis, which causes the gluteus and hip muscles to become tightened. This is turn, alters the mechanics of the spine, and causes compression to the sciatic nerve as it travels through these tissues.
“Back pain” is a term that can be caused by an array of different conditions. For example, you may experience back pain due to poor posture, a motor vehicle accident, or a lifting injury. The treatment plan that our physiotherapist sets up for you, will depend on how you developed the back pain, in addition to its exact location and your past medical history.
Back pain can be described as acute, meaning it is short-term, or chronic, meaning it is long-term (typically lasting for three months or longer).
Physiotherapy for Sciatica
Sciatica is a specific type of back pain that is reported as being highly uncomfortable. However, it is also fortunately very simple to diagnose. People with sciatica experience pain along their sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in your body.
The sciatic nerve begins at your lower back and then splits at the base of your spine to extend further down to your buttocks, legs, and finally to the bottom of each foot. The sciatic nerve can become compressed or irritated, which causes a “shooting,” “stinging,” or “burning” sensation in your lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet.
Physiotherapy for Neck Pain
When you experience neck pain, it typically can run from the base of your skull to the top of your shoulder blades, finally settling in the back of the neck. The pain may vary in severity, from a constant dull ache to sharp and stabbing pains. Neck pain can sometimes include additional symptoms, including but not limited to:
Stiffness and muscle tightness in the upper body
Numbness or tingling into the upper extremities
Discomfort and pain when remaining in the same position for too long
Loss of sleep due to pain and discomfort
Inability to fully stand up or sit up straight