BY NIAMH DAVIS, FITHUB LETTERKENNY: A lot of cases of back pain that cause any sensations down the leg are classed as sciatica, but often there are other factors involved that must be looked at before a diagnosis is given.
Posture, lifestyle and self-diagnosis are the biggest issues when it comes to lower back pain.
If the pain is dull and constant, there is more likely to be an issue with the muscles rather than the nerve. In this case try a warm bath or heat pack on the lower back to try and ease any tightness, which should in turn give you some relief.
Trigger points are another factor that can cause a sciatic type pain. Simply put, a trigger point is a taut band in a muscle that can cause severe referral pain or sensations.
The taut band could be in your glute and cause pain in your lower back or down your leg, it could be a problem in your deltoid (shoulder) and cause headaches.
Trigger points are sneaky and give, what seems to be, random pain referral but when located by an experienced therapist can relieve even chronic pain.
A lower back pain that comes and goes could be caused by a weakness or an incorrect muscle pattern.
All your muscles have a job and sometimes one or two just don’t function to the best of their ability.
This is something that is near to impossible to spot yourself. Book in with an experienced professional to get muscles patterns looked at.
It is a small problem that can cause a large amount of problems especially if you train or have a manual job.
After a treatment, it is then easier to build up strength in the lower back to stop any issues recurring.
Piriformis syndrome is another common problem that gets labelled as sciatica. The piriformis is a muscle in your buttocks that when tight or inflamed can cause compression on the sciatic nerve which causes pain.
There are numerous stretches that can be done to relieve this condition. Dry needling is also a very effective way to release the tightness in the piriformis muscle.
What if it really is sciatica though?
True sciatica is caused by a compression at the nerve root and can cause severe sharp pain, slight tingling and sometimes a short term numbness feeling.
If these symptoms appear it is essential to see a physiotherapist or doctor to get checked for disc pathologies or spinal issues.
Unfortunately for true sciatica it is difficult to reduce pain when a flare up has occurred. It can be a long process figuring out what causes a sciatic flare up and so it is crucial to talk to a professional to get a treatment plan and prevention plan in place.
Managing stress, regular exercise and good nutrition can all help reduce sciatica episodes.
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints that people have. It is so common that it has become a part of life. Everyone has suffered with is at some stage and done nothing about it, most are lucky and it eases in a matter of days or weeks but for others the issue manifests and becomes unbearable.
Do not let something that can be sorted with heat, rest and a massage become a condition that can take months of physical therapy, time off work and a lot of grief.
Back pain is not a necessary part of life and should be checked out especially if it is lasting or recurring pain or ache.
Book in with your local recommended therapist to start your way to recovery.
Guest Columnist Niamh Davis is a neuro-musclar physical therapist based at Fit-Hub, Mountain Top, Letterkenny.
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