UNDERSTANDING LOW BACK PAIN AND SCIATICA
BY STACEY HICKS
Carlisle Place Physical Therapy and Wellness Center
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for a visit to the doctor’s office. Experts estimate that as many as eighty percent of the population will experience a back problem at some point in their lifetime. In the United States we spend over 50 billion dollars annually in medical costs due to low back pain. Most causes of back pain are mechanical or non-organic, meaning they are not caused by a serious condition such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture, or cancer. There are two factors that predispose us to low back pain. The first is poor sitting posture. The second is the frequency in which we flex or bend during the day. From the moment we rise in the morning until we go to bed in the evening, the average person bends forward 3,500 times. This combined with poor sitting posture, which also places the spine in flexion, creates mechanical alterations in the spine. This can stress tissues, break down discs, and create impingement on nerves that can cause sciatica or low back pain.
Evaluation of your pain by a therapist trained in the McKenzie Method or Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) will determine your treatment strategy and provide lifelong applications for preventing future back pain. The McKenzie procedure for assessing patients with low back pain was found to be more accurate than an MRI in differentiating disc pain from non-discogenic pain. (Donelson et al, 1997). Therapeutic treatment is more effective, less expensive, avoids unnecessary diagnostic testing and teaches you lifelong techniques in avoiding future episodes.