Physiotherapy for Back Pain and Sciatica in Edmonton
As you stand at the kitchen counter, you place your hands on your back, hoping to ease the pain. Getting in and out of the car is getting difficult, and there is no way you could consider lifting your favourite child. Maybe you have to lift or carry things, not even heavy things, for work. But no matter what your lifestyle, back pain and sciatica put a wrench into everything you try to do.
If you were in a car accident, had a fall, or hurt yourself playing sports, you probably remember the exact minute your back pain started. On the other hand, back pain can sneak up on you from spending too much time behind the wheel or in front of a computer screen. If so, it may be hard to remember exactly when the pain started, although it may feel like it has been around forever.
Sharp Back Pain Vs a Dull Ache
Sharp back pain, especially when it comes and goes, and shoots down one leg, is usually sciatica. Your sciatic nerve runs down each leg, so the sharp pain on one side is a clear indicator of the condition. Other sharp back pain is often a result of a “pinched nerve,” just in another part of your back.
But most back pain is more constant and more of a dull ache. Not that it doesn’t get in the way! It surely does. The pain is just different from the hot, sharp pain of sciatica.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is when a nerve in your lower back is pinched, injured, or compressed. The pain can extend all the way from your lower back into your hip, leg, and even down to your foot. You may have had a sudden trauma, like a car accident, sports injury, or lifting something incorrectly or that is too heavy. Or your sciatica could be caused by long-term stress that affects the structures in your back.
Most sciatica patients are between 30 and 50 years old, often involved in repeated lifting, participating in weight-bearing sports, or have a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity, smoking, and poor posture contribute, too.
Most sciatica and back pain patients recover without having surgery, especially with physiotherapy.
Do You Need a Physiotherapist if You Have Back Pain?
Sometimes, you twist your back a bit or lift something too heavy, and you end up with back pain. You use an ice pack and take some ibuprofen, and everything is fine in a couple of days. Over time though, it seems like it takes less and less to “throw out your back,” and you start to wonder if there is a way to reduce the risk of reinjury.
More often than not, physiotherapy will help you find optimum pain relief right now and make it less likely that you hurt yourself again. Here are some indications that you should see a physiotherapist at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton for your back or sciatica pain.
1. Your Back Pain or Sciatica Started After an Injury
Sometimes mild sciatica or back pain builds up and eases off over time. But after a car accident, fall, or sports injury, contact Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton as soon as possible. Your physiotherapist will complete a thorough exam to make sure you don’t have any serious underlying condition that could make your pain extend into the longer term. Sciatica is a type of nerve damage, so be sure to take it very seriously. You don’t want to end up having surgery! But even if you do end up having an operation, physiotherapy helps you prepare and recover.
Physiotherapy will help reduce the pain, speed healing, increase your range of motion, and strengthen your back muscles. Stronger muscles, more flexibility, and better posture make reinjury less likely.
2. Your Symptoms are Severe Enough to Interfere with Your Normal Activities
With severe back pain or sciatica, you may find you can’t take part in your normal daily activities. It could be difficult to bend over to load the dishwasher, lift a child, get into a truck cab, or carry a package at work.
Seriously compressed sciatic nerves get quite painful, sometimes becoming embarrassing. Your foot or leg may feel weak or even numb on one side, and it may be impossible to move to take a step. If you feel a sudden shooting pain, call Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton to get some relief.
Also, your sciatic nerve controls your bladder and bowel functions, so a severely compressed nerve often causes incontinence. Your doctor will need to rule out other causes but will likely refer you for physiotherapy.
3. Nothing You’ve Done Helps After a Week
You can only go for so long with heating pads and ice packs, anti-inflammatory meds, long walks, and avoiding challenging activities. Sure, keep sleeping with a pillow between your knees, or even sleep sitting up in a recliner. But, sooner or later, you want to return to your normal, pain-free life!
If the lifestyle changes you’ve made still leave you with back pain or sciatica after a week, it’s time to call Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton.
Physiotherapy for Back Pain and Sciatica – What to Expect
During your first appointment, you tell your story to your physiotherapist. At Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic, we listen carefully because we believe you know your body best. Your physiotherapist will ask about any event that caused your pain, your lifestyle, medical history, and how your back pain or sciatica impacts your activities.
Next, your physiotherapist evaluates your reflexes, range of motion, flexibility, strength, how well your muscles are balanced, and many other elements that can contribute to your pain. You’ll do simple movements like bending side-to-side, leaning forward from, twisting at your waist, extending backwards, and walking. This assessment gives your physiotherapist information about your condition and how your back pain and sciatica affect your physical functioning.
Then, your physiotherapist takes the information from your evaluation and develops a program of customized physiotherapy treatments. Most treatment programs include several different types of therapy. Your physiotherapist may recommend:
- Manual therapy
- Myofascial release
- Soft tissue massage
- Cervical mobilization
- Relaxation stretching
- Corrective stretching
- Joint mobilization
- Therapeutic exercise
- Posture correction
- Dry needling
- Advice for during daily activities
- Electric stimulation
Your physiotherapy program generally begins with passive therapies. These passive therapies help reduce your pain. As your back pain and sciatica symptoms subside, your therapy plan becomes more active, including different stretches and exercises to strengthen your muscles.
Physiotherapy for back pain and sciatic usually requires several weeks to complete the initial treatment plan. But your treatment plan will usually include a longer-term plan to reduce the risk of reinjury.
Passive Physiotherapy for Back Pain and Sciatica
Passive physiotherapy gently relieves the pain and soft tissue tension and relaxes your body. Your physiotherapist moves your body or performs manual therapy techniques “on you.” Mostly, you just relax and let your therapist do the work. Every individualized passive physiotherapy plan is unique. Yours may include some of these treatments.
Heat and Cold Therapies
With heat, your physiotherapist helps your body send more blood flow to the treatment area. The greater the blood supply, the more oxygen and other nutrients become available. For example, heat packs on a muscle may reduce muscle spasms that could cause back pain or sciatica.
On the other hand, cold therapy will slow the circulation and help reduce inflammation, which also reduces muscle spasms and pain. Most passive physiotherapy plans alternate between hot and cold, so you benefit from both. Many plans also encourage you to continue the heat and cold therapies at home between appointments at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton.
Manual therapy targets specific muscles and the muscular connective tissue (fascia) in your lower back, hips, and buttocks to help with sciatica. These muscles can compress the sciatic nerve and other nerves branching off your sciatic nerve. Direct pressure and friction help release tension in muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
For other back pain, your physiotherapist targets the area that hurts directly and also works on trigger points and areas of referred pain.
Many patients wonder if manual therapy will hurt, and sometimes the answer is “yes.” Often, if it does hurt, but patients describe it as “hurting so good!” For the most part though, manual therapy does not increase your discomfort, and it helps relieve the pain, at least temporarily, often quite immediately.
There are many other passive physiotherapy treatment options. Ask your physiotherapist at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton to explain which ones are in your customized recovery plan.
Active Physiotherapy for Back Pain and Sciatica
Once the immediate pain subsides, you will be ready to take a more active role in your recovery. Your physiotherapist will teach you specific therapeutic stretches and exercises customized for you. These exercises improve your flexibility, range of motion, and muscle strength. Each exercise targets a specific area for exact results.
Physiotherapy is highly effective in helping back pain and sciatica. Reach out to us here at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton for an assessment of your condition. We’re here to help reduce your pain and let you get back to your normal activities and pain-free life!