Back pain can be the result of direct trauma,such as whiplash from a car accident, arthritic changes or postural strain. Back pain can be referred into the legs and this is usually called sciatica.
The following spinal structures can be injured and cause pain:
- DISCS – these can move out of alignment and irritate or compress nerves causing local and/ or referred pain into the legs.
- MUSCLES – Muscles can be torn causing back pain. Also very weak muscles give the spine poor support making it easier to damage other structures within the spine.
- JOINTS – Joints can become stiff from disuse or inflammed from arthritic conditions or trauma.
- NERVES – Nerves, when injured can cause pain , pins and needles or numbness.
If you have back pain a chartered physiotherapist will make a detailed assessment to indentify the source of the pain. A treatment plan will then be implemented to resolve the problem and prevent recurrance. It is very important to fully rehabilitate the spine i.e. restore normal flexibility and strenght to minimise the possibility of relapse.
Physiotherapy can involve specific muscle strenghtening and/or stretching, postural correction, ergonomic advise, joint mobilisation, manipulation, traction and massage. Almost always a personal therapeutic exercise program is prescribed and compliance with this is important.
Sciatica [leg pain coming from the sciatic nerve] is a common problem associated with back pain. It can occur without back pain too but less often. Treatment will be directed at off loading the sciatic nerve using manual therapy and exercise.