Back Pain & Sciatica Relief
Corey N, Lihue
The team at Hawaii Sports and Balance Center has made a significant difference in my overall health. The professional care...
Back Pain vs. Sciatica: What’s the Difference?
Did you know that one out of every four Americans has experienced back pain in the past three months? According to the American Physical Therapy Association, back pain is the most commonly reported pain across the nation. This form of pain typically results from an injury or strain; however, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether the discomfort you are feeling is the result of general back pain or sciatica.
Sciatica is a specific type of back pain that occurs from issues surrounding the nerves, and it is extremely common. Whether you are suffering from general back pain or sciatica, working with one of our highly-trained Kauai physical therapists can help relieve the discomfort in your back and restore your health. Physical therapy may even eliminate your need for harmful pain-management drugs, such as opioids, or an invasive surgical procedure. If you are experiencing back pain, contact Hawaii Sports and Balance Center today. Our skilled physical therapists will create an individualized treatment regimen for you, focusing around your relief and recovery.
Why do back pain & sciatica occur?
General back pain usually develops as the result of an injury, and it can occur suddenly or gradually over time. For example, repetitive straining motions, such as bending down multiple times to pick up boxes while moving, can result in general back pain, as can a more serious, sudden trauma, such as a car accident. Underlying conditions, such as herniated discs, can also cause severe back pain and can lead to sciatica. Degenerative disc disease is also a common condition resulting in back pain, which can be caused by poor posture or obesity. Those suffering from this condition typically report dull, aching pains in their lower back that are chronic and persistent.
Sciatica is a bit more difficult to understand than general back pain. The technical name for sciatica is “lumbar radiculopathy.” Those who develop this condition are typically between 30 and 50 years of age. There are many different types of injuries that can cause the development of sciatica, such as bone spurs, arthritis, or any other injury that impacts the sciatic nerve. Common injuries resulting in sciatica include harsh falls, sports-related collisions, or anything that occurs gradually over time through repetition, overuse, or general “wear and tear.”
So, what’s the difference?
“Back pain” is sort of an umbrella term, as it can be caused by numerous different conditions. For example, you may experience back pain due to an injury at the gym, poor posture, a car accident, and more. The treatment plan that your Kauai physical therapist 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 is described as acute or chronic. Acute pain means that it lasts for a short time and is usually severe. Chronic pain means that it lasts generally three months or longer and it can either cause persistent severe or dull pain. The pain you experience is typically either rooted in your back muscles or the bones in your spine.
Sciatica is a specific type of back pain, and it is usually reported as being extremely uncomfortable. Fortunately, it is also usually 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, extending down to your buttocks, legs, and finally to the bottom of each foot. The sciatic nerve can become “pinched,” which in turn causes a “stinging,” “burning” or “shooting” sensation in your lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet.
How can I get help?
Luckily enough, back pain and sciatica are both completely treatable through the use of physical therapy. One of our Kauai physical therapists will create a treatment plan for you that is dependent upon your diagnosis. In the early stages of your physical therapy treatments, you and your physical therapist will work closely to focus on pain relief. This may include any combination of manual therapy, light exercises, posture improvement, ice and heat therapies, or any other treatment that your physical therapist deems fit.
Once you begin to improve, your physical therapist will expand on your exercises and stretches, increasingly making them more intensive over time. These will help in focusing on increasing your strength and range of motion.
If you are suffering from sciatica, your physical therapist will implement specific leg stretches into your treatment plan that are focused around loosening up the sciatic nerve. The overall goal of physical therapy for back pain and sciatica is to alleviate pain, improve range of motion, and strengthen the body. The goal is for you to get back to doing your normal daily activities without worrying about pain or discomfort.
If you are experiencing back pain or sciatica, Contact Us Today at Lihue & Kapa’a, HI Centers to schedule a consultation. No matter how severe the pain may be, Hawaii Sports and Balance Center will help you get on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.
The pain you experience in your back may either be acute or chronic, depending on how it was sustained. Acute pain means that it lasts for a short time and is usually severe. Chronic pain means that it lasts generally three months or longer and it can either cause dull or severe persistent pain. The pain you experience is typically either rooted in your back muscles or the bones in your spine. If your pain is severe enough to hinder you from doing daily tasks, if it suddenly worsens, or if it has lasted longer than three months, then it is time to seek the help of a physical therapist.
You can treat your back pain with physical therapy. Physical therapy can address back pain by helping to improve your range of motion, strengthening the muscles in the affected areas, and using targeted massage to reduce tension. In many situations, working with a physical therapist to improve can significantly reduce the severity of your back pain, and may even help you avoid more invasive procedures, such as surgery.
Your physical therapist will design a treatment plan based on your specific needs. Your individualized treatment plan will incorporate the best methods possible for relieving your pain, facilitating the healing process, and restoring function and movement to the affected area(s) of your back. Your initial appointment will consist of a comprehensive evaluation, which will help your physical therapist discover which forms of treatment will be best for the orthopedic, neurologic, or cardiovascular condition you are experiencing. The main stages of your plan will focus on pain relief, which may include any combination of ice and heat therapies, manual therapy, posture improvement, targeted stretches and exercises, or any other treatment that your physical therapist may deem fit. While there is no singular method for relieving back pain, your physical therapist will make sure you receive the best treatments for your needs.
While medication is easy, it only helps your pain subside for a short amount of time. Over time, certain drugs can cause some unfavorable side effects, and in some cases, they can be habit-forming. With NSAIDs, you run the risk of blood clots, heart attack, or stroke. With corticosteroids, you run the risk of cataracts, high blood sugar levels, and bone loss. Luckily, there is a much safer and healthier alternative to treating persistent back pain: physical therapy. At your initial consultation, your physical therapist will ask you several questions regarding your medical history, lifestyle, and painful area(s). This information will assist your physical therapist in creating the best treatment plan for you and your specific needs, so you can be provided with long-term results.