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 pain and lower body pain, as well as stiffness or numbness problems, make it hard to function, you may well have sciatica or a pinched nerve in your spine. Keep reading below to learn more about physical therapy for back pain.
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 physical therapy treat back pain and sciatica?
Working on strength, flexibility and circulation are all crucial components to fending off sciatic back and lower body pain that you can do at home on a regular basis. But when self-help routines don’t work, you may need to see a physical therapist before you suffer further or potentially lose motor control. The types of treatment provided will depend on the amount of loss of range of motion, strength and/or sensory deficits that you present with on evaluation. Some of the best treatments for sciatica in physical therapy are:
- Soft tissue and deep tissue massage in combination with spinal joint mobilization or manipulation to allow greater spine mobility or relieve pressure on compressed nerve roots.
- 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 physical therapy session, including walking or swimming, but your physical therapist can show you methods to work around your sciatic stiffness and pain as you do so.
- Self mobilization exercise and stretching exercises, to boost flexibility and encourage proper spine alignment. 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 will loosen muscles and boost mobility.
- Strength building moves, to tone the paraspinal muscles and gluteal muscles, help create an internal corset to 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?
You don’t need a referral to visit us to help you manage and fix your low back pain. In the state of Connecticut you can begin care without a physician referral. When you are ready, our physical therapist will give you a full evaluation, including a spinal alignment assessment, simple tests to evaluate muscle strength in your legs and back, evaluate your reflexes, assess lower extremity sensation and measure loss of lumbar range-of-motion.
To get started on your back pain and sciatica relief treatment plan, contact us our physical therapist today.