About 8/10 people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. It can be very uncomfortable and may even make you immobile, but in most cases, it isn’t a serious long-term problem (as long as you pay attention to it and get treatment).
More often than not, back pain results from lifestyle factors, such as being in poor physical condition, improper lifting and bending, and sitting too much (usually in a non-ergonomic environment).
Back pain manifests itself in various ways:
Localized Back Pain – felt in the lower back, tailbone, and buttocks region.
Radiating Pain – when the pain in your back radiates down the back or side of the leg.
If you have low back pain combined with pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve (the largest nerve in the body that runs from each side of the lower spine, through the buttock, into the back of the thigh, and all the way down to the foot), this is referred to as sciatica.
Sciatica occurs when there is pressure on a part of the nerve. The result is inflammation leading to significant buttock and leg pain. It typically only affects one side of your body.
Referred Pain – describes pain that comes from one place, usually the low back area, and is felt in another area such as the groin, buttock and anywhere along the leg including the foot. This can also be accompanied by pins and needles or numbness.
Referred pain is often caused by pressure on a nerve root by a bulging/herniated disc, bone spur or osteoarthritis.
Treatment for Lower Back Pain
Getting your back treated early is the key to decreasing pain and resuming normal activity. See your physiotherapist as soon as possible, because the longer you let the symptoms linger, the harder it will be to treat. Don’t just patiently wait for it to get better, because it may take much longer than anticipated, and may not actually fix the reason you developed the pain in the first place.
Your physio will conduct a detailed assessment which will note the type of pain, why the pain occurred, what makes it feel better, and what makes it feel worse. They will then tailor treatment to your specific problem, based on a thorough examination and the probable causes of your pain.
Movement Exercises – to restore motion and decrease radiating or referred pain.
Progressive Strengthening Exercises – focus on core stability and endurance.
Intramuscular Stimulation – also known as “dry needling”, in this procedure, super sensitive areas can be desensitized and the persistent pull of shortened muscles can be released. The goal of treatment is to release muscle shortening which presses on and irritates the nerve.