According to the American Physical Therapy Association, back pain is the most commonly reported pain across the nation, and one out of every four Americans has experienced back pain in the past three months. Back pain usually results from an injury or strain, however, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if the discomfort you are experiencing is general back pain or sciatica.
Sciatica is a specific type of back pain caused by a nerve issue and is extremely common. Whether you are suffering from general back pain or sciatica, working with a physical therapist can help relieve the discomfort in your back and restore your health. Our goal here at Med Center Therapy is to eliminate your need for harmful painkilling drugs, such as opioids, or an invasive surgical procedure. If you are experiencing back pain, Contact Us Today and one of our licensed therapists will create an individualized treatment regimen through both Aquatic and Land Physical Therapy.
Difference Between General Back Pain And Sciatica
“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 an exercise injury. The treatment plan that your physical therapist sets up for you, will depend on how you developed the back pain, 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.) The pain you experience can either be rooted in your back muscles or the bones in your spine.
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 “pinched,” which causes a “shooting,” “stinging,” or “burning” sensation in your lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet.
Causes Of Back Pain And Sciatica
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 can lead to sciatica. Degenerative disc disease is a common condition resulting in back pain, which can be caused by poor posture or obesity. Those with this condition typically report dull, aching pains in their lower back.
Sciatica’s technical name is “lumbar radiculopathy.” People who develop sciatica 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. This may include a sports-related collision, a harsh fall, or something that occurs gradually over time through overuse, repetition, or general “wear and tear.”
Seek Help For Back Pain and Sciatica Through Aquatic Therapy
The water is a perfect environment for many of our patients with low back pain and sciatica. Patients with these conditions often start their course of rehab in the water, as there is less impact on the body. The buoyancy of the water helps patients move their limbs more easily through the water, whereas on land they are working against gravity. The buoyancy of the water also decreases weight-bearing, which in turn reduces stress through the joints and intervertebral discs.
Lower extremity distraction may also be a good way to reduce pain in a patient with radicular symptoms (pain that radiates down the leg). Having weight around the patient’s ankles will provide a traction force to the spine, elongating the muscles of the back and increasing joint space to decrease pressure on the spinal nerves.
The pool is a great place to initiate the rehabilitation process for a wide variety of diagnoses involving low back pain. The amazing properties of water will allow these patients to strengthen in an environment which may be more tolerable than land, resulting in a speedier recovery.