Doing the Correct Exercises for Sciatica

There are different kinds of exercises for sciatica depending on what is causing the sciatica. Sciatica is caused by spinal stenosis, herniated disc or piriformis syndrome. Each of these conditions is different and, therefore, requires different types of exercises to help relieve the pain, which may be in the foot, leg, thigh, buttocks or lower back.

Exercises for sciatica caused by a herniated disc are to help the pain and symptoms move from your lower extremities (feet, legs, thighs) back to the lower back. The best exercises for this purpose are press-ups or extension exercises.

The patient will lie on their stomach while propping the upper part of the body with the elbows and making sure the hips are on the floor. Hold this position for five seconds the first day and work up to 30 seconds each time. After the patient can do this easily without difficulty, the therapist will recommend holding up the upper body with their hands, making sure the arms are straight. This position will be held for only one second, but will be done ten times. These exercises should be done every few hours.

For sciatica caused by spinal stenosis, there is a very effective stretching exercise where the patient lies on his back and pulls his knees to his chest until he feels a stretch that is comfortable. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then go back to the starting position. This exercise should be done up to six times each session.

A strengthening exercise for the sciatic pain consists of lying on the back and pushing the lower back on the floor by tightening the lower stomach muscles and pulling the belly button in and up, holding for 10 seconds longs. Up to ten of these exercises should be done each session.

A good stretching exercise for sciatica caused by piriformis syndrome is the patient lying on their back with the legs flat on the floor. Pull the painful leg towards the chest, while holding the knee on the same side and holding the ankle with the other hand. Try to pull the knee in the direction of the other ankle until you can feel the stretch. Do not try to force it beyond this point, but hold it for up to 30 seconds. Release it and start again, doing this three times.

These exercises are just a few of the many stretching and strengthening exercises that are helpful in relieving the pain caused by sciatica. A physical therapist, spinal specialist or chiropractor will be able to give the patient an entire list of different exercises.

Causes of Lower Back Pain

The causes of lower back pain are a combination of muscle strain, overuse, and injury to the muscles, discs and ligaments that support the spine. Most experts believe that muscle strain can lead to an overall imbalance of the spine’s structure. This can lead to a constant tension on the muscles, bones, discs, and ligaments, making the back much more prone to injury or even re-injury.

The causes of lower back pain or lumbosacral area, add on to one another. As an example, after straining muscles, you will likely walk or move in different ways to avoid pain or use the muscles that are not painful. This can cause you to strain other muscles that usually do not move in that way.

Some of the most common causes of lower back pain include overuse or injury of ligaments, facet joints, muscles, and the sacroiliac joints, pressure on the nerve roots in the spinal cord, and compression fractures of the spine. Compression fractures are often diagnosed in post-menopausal women with osteoporosis or in women or men after long term corticosteroid use.

When it comes to the pressure on the nerve roots, this can be caused by several things. A herniated disc, which is often brought on by vibration or repeated motion or sudden heavy strain can be one of the many causes of lower back pain. Osteoarthritis develops with age, and when it affects the small facet joints, it can be one of the causes of lower back pain. Spinal fractures that are caused by significant force such as from a bicycle or auto accident, a direct hit to the spine, or compressing the spine by falling on one’s head or bottom cause lower back pain. As well, spinal deformities, including scoliosis or kyphosis, can be causes for lower back pain.

Other causes of lower back pain include joint inflammation or arthritis of the spine, bacterial infections, spinal tumors or growths that develop on the spine, Paget’s disease that causes abnormal bone growth that affects the spine, skull, chest, legs, and pelvis, and Scheuermann’s disease where one or more of the vertebrae develop deformities that causes curvature of the spine or chest region. The causes of lower back pain can include aortic aneurysm, peptic ulcers, pelvic inflammatory disease, gall bladder disease, pancreatitis, kidney stones or urinary tract infections, and prostate disease.

Ironically, the state of mind has an effect on the level of pain and whether it becomes chronic. Mental causes of lower back pain include depression, stress, unhappy in work, or legal battles.

There are many causes of lower back pain. To find out which one is affecting you, visit your doctor or family physician to start the process of diagnosing the problem of your back pain. Once this has been accomplished, this can lead you towards a life free of back pain. A back pain free life is a luxury many people would like to have, and after a visit to your doctor, you too can have that life.

What Is Upper Back Pain?

Often called thoracic pain or middle back pain, people experience upper back pain between the top of their lumbar spine and the base of their neck. A person’s upper spine is very stable and strong because it has to support their upper body weight. It also anchors the rib cage stably and firmly, thus providing a protective cavity for the lungs and heart to function. Attached to the thoracic or upper back are the ribs. Although lower back pain or cervical neck pain are more common spinal disorders than upper back pain, it can cause a lot of anguish and discomfort when it does happen.

The upper back, also called the thoracic spine, is stable and strong, protecting your vital internal chest organs and allowing you to stand upright. The upper back section of the spinal column has limited movement but a great amount of stability so there is normally very little chance of degeneration or injury to the upper back over time. On the other hand, the neck and lower back provides a person with their mobility, so the lumbar spine and cervical spine are far more likely to be injured. They can also develop common spinal disorders such as, degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, spinal instability, or spinal stenosis.

As the result of sudden injury, muscular irritation, strain, joint dysfunction, trauma, or prolonged poor posture, upper back pain can result. Upper back pain often occurs with shoulder pain and/or neck pain. Upper back pain has become a familiar complaint from computer operators who spend a large majority of their day sitting at a computer.

Muscular irritation is a common cause of upper back pain due to repetitive motion, overuse injuries and lack of strength, also called de-conditioning. Large muscles attach the shoulder girdle to the shoulder blades and thoracic rib cage back. These large muscles in the upper back can develop muscular irritation that causes upper back pain. This pain from muscular irritation often results from auto accidents, sports injuries, muscle strains, or other injuries.

More than sixty percent of Americans will suffer from lower or upper back pain and back injuries at some point during their lives and approximately half will of those will experience it numerous times. Lower and upper back pain problems can be very debilitating because they often prevent people from enjoying activities they love, such as playing with their children or grandchildren, going out golfing, jogging, bending over to smell the flowers, or worse. People should be aware that most lower and upper back pain injuries occur over the course of many years and rarely as the result of a single accident or activity.

Sciatica May Be One of The Most Difficult to Diagnose

Sciatica is a term used to describe a problem with the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that starts at the lower back and runs down the back part of each leg. It is responsible for the movement of the muscles in the back of the lower leg and knees. It also is what gives you feeling in the back of your thigh, your lower leg and sole of the feet. Symptoms of sciatica are numbness, weakness or tingling. Although, it’s usually only on one side of your body and starts in your lower back, it can affect your thighs, calf, foot or your toes.

Many people don’t fully understand sciatica and don’t realize they are victims of sciatica because of where the pain is located. The majority of their pain may be in their thigh or calf and assume they have a problems with their legs rather than the sciatic nerve in their back. In some situations, sciatica may go away on its own, but it often needs medicine, exercises or possible surgery. Although at times, doctors can’t find a cause for sciatica, it my come from a pelvic fracture, ruptured intervertebral disc or spinal stenosis.

Some of the symptoms of sciatica are different changes in the sensation you feel in the back of the thigh, calf or sole of your feet such as tingling, numbness or a burning sensation. These are usually the first signs that something is wrong. Any sensations that are abnormal may be signs of sciatica, especially if they are mixed with pain. The pain may start minor and become severe or vice versa. In some of the more severe cases of sciatica, the patient may experience inability to move the feet or bend their knees along with having trouble walking.

Patients are usually diagnosed with sciatica after seeing a doctor for pain in the lower back that extends downward. The doctor will first run blood tests, take X-rays as well as MRIs or EMGs. Nerve conduction tests to determine nerve damage are also taken.

Treatment of sciatica may vary depending on the severity of the illness. The first part of the treatment involves pinpointing the exact cause of the nerve disorder. In some cases that are minor, there will be little or conservative treatment. They will only do this if there appears to be little or not trauma to the area or no degeneration of the nerve area.

If the sciatica is caused from a herniated disc, they may choose to remove the parts that are putting pressure on the nerve. Other forms of treatment for sciatica are injections to reduce an inflammation near the nerve or pain relievers. Physical therapy may also be recommended in some cases to help rebuild the strength of the muscles.

Getting Active with Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain

It may sound strange at first, but physical therapy management for low back pain means getting active for your pain control program. Often, pain in the lower back is due to strained or pulled muscles, but it’s just as often due to poor muscle tone. That’s right! If you let your back muscles weaken to the point they can’t efficiently do their job, you’re more likely to experience injury or pain. That’s not to minimize the pain of those with chronic back problems due to more serious conditions such as herniated discs, but physical therapy strengthens muscles and restores functionality.

There are varying levels of physical therapy programs that can be prescribed for back pain. The first is regular exercise you can do on your own that targets the low back muscles. For example, you can do the “plank” or the pelvic lift several times a week. The advantage of doing back exercises is that you actually work all your core muscles too. In other words, you’re exercising both the back and abdomen muscles. Strong core muscles are much less likely to be sprained or injured during daily activities.

Physical therapy management for low back pain may also include a monitored exercise program under the guidance of a physical therapist. In this case, you will work with the therapist to develop a muscle strengthening program that targets the lower back muscles. But you will only proceed at a pace based upon your improvement as measured by the therapies. In addition, physical therapy programs are often supplemented by other therapies such as medications.

Starting any kind of exercise program means you’re getting more active. So many people are overweight and inactive and pay the price with their back muscles. Physical therapy programs that focus on exercise can be adapted to the stage of pain you are experiencing. For example, during the initial stages of pain the special exercises will focus on exercises that will prevent the pain from getting worse.

The idea that physical therapy management for low back pain involves only lying on a table while a therapist bends your legs is long gone. Physical therapy may include muscle massages, walking programs or even aerobics. It all depends upon the amount and kind of pain you are experiencing. Often, exercise also serves as a way to relieve stress. Stress can cause muscle tightness and increase the level of pain you experience. The more you stress and worry the worse pain you may experience.

Physical therapy management for low back pain is frequently used to assist people who have lost the ability to function normally. In other words, they are virtually disabled. A progressive program of exercise and therapy works on two levels. First, your muscles are stretched and worked regularly to restore strength. Second, as you begin to recover your ability to move without pain, your will be mentally and emotionally motivated to improve. Pain begins in the brain and can be aggravated by despair over loss of abilities.

If you have bouts of back problems, physical therapy management for low back pain may be the solution you need to restore your muscle strength while reducing pain.