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Low Back Pain/Sciatica

Billions of dollars are spent every year on treatment for low back pain and sciatica. Sciatic refers to pain that is in the leg from the back. This can present in a variety of ways from back pain, pain in the butt (literally), an ache in the calf, numbness and tingling in the toes, to pain that radiates from the back all the way down to the foot. This can come from a multitude of ailments, including bulging or herniated discs. There are discs between each vertebrae, or bone, in the spine. They are there to cushion the space between each bone. Both bulging discs and herniated discs are common with aging. Think of them like wrinkles. You can expect more as you age. The issue becomes when the disc pushes out into the area where the nerves come out. Bulging discs are intact, whereas with a herniated disc, the inside of the disc pushes out into the area where the nerve is.

Medically speaking, pain running down the leg is called a lumbar radiculopathy. This is also referred to as a pinched nerve. There are small nerve roots coming out of each section of the spine that combine together to make the sciatic nerve, which runs down the leg. A bone spur can also move into the space and push on a nerve root and cause pain down the leg, or into the back. Narrowing of the spaces, which is called lumbar stenosis, is common as we age, which can also cause leg pain. Stenosis pain, however, is more commonly down both legs at the same time. 

Back pain can also be caused by trauma. Trauma could be a common trauma, like an auto accident or fall. But is also refers to daily trauma, like sitting at a desk all day, lifting, or even bending awkwardly.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Research has shown that physical therapy is an effective treatment for low back pain, and can be as effective as surgery. Physical therapy can help you get back on your feet, literally. Physical therapy goals are to decrease pain, improve function, and teach you the skills you need to maintain a healthy back.


We use a variety of treatment options, including manual therapy, exercise, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and mechanical traction to provide the best symptom relief. Performing exercises properly is an important component of physical therapy. We educate our patients on proper performance, as well as monitor them while they exercise here in the clinic. A home exercise program will be provided and taught as well. How you move is key to improving low back pain and sciatica. Education on how to bend, stand, sit, walk, and even sleep is important for treatment to eliminate long term pain. 

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