Back pain is caused by a number of different factors, but if you have pain, the cause probably fits into one of the following three categories:
Between each of the bones in your back (or vertebrae), you have a disc made of very thick fibrous tissue that surrounds a gel core. You may have symptoms when the gel is pushed out of place (herniation) and presses on a sensitive structure like a nerve. Sometimes it is caused by doing a lot of heavy physical labour, especially in a forward flexed position with twisting. Sometimes as the disc ages and loses its elasticity, the gel material might be more likely to herniate out of place. A disc can be painful right at the place of herniation or can cause pain to travel down a nerve, into the leg.
Sciatic nerve pain—sciatica—is pain that travels down the large sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back down of the leg. Some people have pain all the way down the leg to the foot or toes. Usually the pain is only on one side. Sciatica is usually caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve from a herniated disc in the low back. It can also be caused by degeneration in the disc and spine. The pain from sciatica can range from severe and debilitating to infrequent and mostly just irritating. Even when sciatica is very painful, it is rare to have permanent nerve damage. Most sciatica is caused by temporary inflammation and will get better within two weeks to a few months with proper treatment by your physiotherapist.
Regardless of the cause, when you see your physiotherapist for treatment for your back pain, he or she will do a variety of things to help you get better, including:
We provide treatment to help loosen tight joints and muscles and ease your symptoms. Call today to ask about your back pain and how you could start seeing relief soon.
Seated Posture and Your Health
Poor posture is a major contributing factor to many injuries including repetitive strain injuries (like carpal tunnel syndrome), back and neck pain.
Good posture while working at the computer is defined as:
When you slouch in your chair, the inward curve in the lumbar area changes to an outward curve, and the mid-back and neck curves increase. Your head is now in front of your shoulders with your chin sticking out (forward head posture) and the shoulders are now in front of the hips (rounded shoulders). This forward head and rounded shoulder posture exerts three times more force than normal on the postural muscles in the back, neck and shoulders. The cumulative effect of this working posture is pain and fatigue in the neck and shoulders while working on the computer.
Your body wasn’t designed to stay in very still postures doing very little muscle work for long periods of time. It was made to be either exercising or resting. So, when you sit in a very still posture, you are concentrating and are often stressed, your muscles are not getting a lot of blood pumping through them and your joints are not moving. The result is stiff sore muscles and joints.
The easiest short term fix is to take regular, short exercise and stretching breaks every 20 minutes, with a longer, standing break every hour. If you time these breaks to occur with normal interruptions, like when the phone rings, they should not affect your productivity. A longer term solution is to have a proper ergonomic assessment. Many employers will pay for this service as well as the changes to your work stations that are recommended as a result of the assessment.
If you have persistent symptoms, consult your physiotherapist for exercises, positioning advice and treatment.