Back Pain and Sciatica

Back & Sciatica Pain Relief Midlothian, VA

What is Sciatica?

One of the most common mistakes is to assume that all leg pain must be due to a herniated disc in the back pressing on a nerve. The truth is most leg pain has nothing to do with a herniated disc and it can be treated very effectively with Physical Therapy. There is much confusion about the term Sciatica. Sciatica is not a medical diagnosis in and of itself—it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. The term sciatica describes the symptoms of leg pain—and possibly tingling, numbness, or weakness—that originate in the lower back and travel through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg. There are two explanations for pain one may have in the leg, one is a compressed nerve root, the other is referred pain.

Referred pain is analogous to the pain that radiates down the left arm during a heart attack. It is the result of the extensive network of interconnecting sensory nerves that supply many of the tissues of the low back, pelvis and thigh. Seventy percent of patients with back pain have some radiating pain into their legs. It is usually a dull ache that spreads into the buttock or thighs, it may affect both legs, but usually does not go below the knee. It is important to understand that referred pain is not due to a pinched nerve.

Nerve root compression gives quite a different pain, it is sharp and specific to an area of your leg. Nerve root pain usually radiates below the knee into the foot or toes. Patients often describe the pain with sensations as pins and needles or numbness. It usually affects one only one leg and is much worse than referred pain.  Nerve root pain is much less common than referred leg pain. Furthermore, if you have back pain alone and no leg pain a nerve root problem is very unlikely.

If you have Sciatica symptoms then you should be examined by a Physical Therapist for signs of referred pain or nerve root compression. Our Physical Therapists at The Virginia Center for Spine & Sports Therapy are highly skilled in performing different tests to asses where the pain is coming from.  Should we determine the nerve compression is more serious we can refer you to the best physicians to assist in your care.

What types of physical therapy treat back pain and sciatica?

Working on strength, flexibility and circulation are all crucial components to treating sciatica and low back pain.  Among the most common categories of treatments for sciatica in physical therapy are:

  •  Low-impact aerobic activity, 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.
  •  Stretching exercises, to enhance mobility. Sciatica often causes spasms, tightness and limited range of motion in your back and legs. Various exercises and  lower-back moves like a press up, will loosen muscles and boost mobility.
  •  Strength building exercises to help 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?

Our patients are often referred to us by their primary physicians or by a specialist, and we’ll continue to work with your medical team to treat the specific cause of your pain. Our highly trained physical therapists will also give you a full evaluation, including a spinal alignment assessment,  tests to evaluate muscle strength in the areas that support your back and range-of-motion evaluations.

To get started on your back pain and sciatica relief treatment plan, contact us at Midlothian, VA center!

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