Back Pain and Sciatica

Millions of Americans are adversely impacted by back pain each year. Studies show that, at one point or another, approximately 80% of the U.S. population will be affected.

While there are a lot of treatment options available, many of these only address the symptoms and don’t target the actual cause of your pain or handle it for the long term.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is actually not a condition, but rather a symptom arising from any of several conditions that cause irritation/inflammation of the sciatic nerve. It is characterized by sharp, shooting pain anywhere along the sciatic nerve which radiates from the lower back, through the buttock and down the back of either leg. Symptoms are typically only felt on one side of the body. The sciatic nerve is a major nerve that starts in the lower end of the spinal cord then splits off and runs down the back of each thigh, through the hips, buttocks, legs, and ends just below the knees. It is the longest nerve in the human body and the thickest in diameter.

The three main causes of low back pain and sciatica are:

  1. Herniated Discs
  2. Arthritis
  3. Pelvis Issues

About 90% of the time sciatica is caused by a herniated (slipped) disc in the spine. Some of the less common causes include:

  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Tumors in the Spine
  • Infection
  • Cauda Equina Syndrome (a rare condition that requires immediate medical attention)
  • Other Causes (such as a spinal cord injury)

It is vital to identify the correct cause of your back pain because if the cause is not correctly identified, there is no way to develop the proper treatment plan. Even though the pain may feel like sciatica, it could be something completely different. There are other low back pain symptoms that are similar to sciatica. A common example is piriformis syndrome, where the piriformis muscle in the buttocks spasms and irritates the sciatic nerve. The pain feels very similar to sciatica, but it’s a completely different condition that requires a completely different treatment plan. When a person is incorrectly treated for sciatica when they actually have piriformis syndrome, they will not get the pain relief they need and will continue to have problems that could potentially get worse.

Our physical therapists will find the actual cause of your back pain and work with you to resolve it. The goals of effectively resolving your low back pain and/or sciatica includes…

  • Identify the true cause
  • Create a unique plan for your specific condition
  • Relieve your pain
  • Restore your normal motion, flexibility, mobility
  • Strengthen the supporting muscles
  • Return you to your normal activities

Here at Gold Medal Physical Therapy, our specialty is Back and Neck Pain. Our therapists are very experienced and have the knowledge and skills to provide a number of different ways to help you reach your health goals.

Your first visit…

  1. Begins with a full interview and physical therapy examination.
  2. Afterwards, the therapist will explain to you in English, not medical jargon, where the cause of your problem is coming from.
  3. YOUR GOALS and YOUR EXPECTATIONS will be discussed and agreed upon.
  4. Considering those goals, you will learn what successful treatment looks like.
  5. You and the therapist will discuss this plan and work together to resolve your pain and get you back to your normal self again.

Common conditions we treat:

  • Back Pain
  • Lumbar Sprains/Strains
  • Herniated Nucleus Pulposus (HNP) – Medical Term for Herniated / Ruptured/ Slipped Disc
  • Bulging Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Sciatica and Leg Pain
  • Facet Pain
  • Spondylosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Compression Fractures
  • Post Surgical Rehabilitation