Lower back and Pelvic pain
Here are some of the more common causes of lower back pain and conditions that Osteopaths frequently see and successfully treat. If you have any of the symptoms or pain described please do not hesitate to contact the clinic. We are waiting to help ease your pain and suffering.
Sciatic pain or sciatic neuritis is a set of symptoms including pain that may be caused by compression and/or irritation of one of five spinal nerve roots that together form what most people know as the sciatic nerve. The pain is felt in the lower back, buttock, and/or various parts of the leg and foot. In addition to pain, which is sometimes severe, there may be numbness, muscular weakness, pins and needles or tingling and difficulty in moving or controlling the leg or foot. Typically, the symptoms are only felt on one side of the body.
Although sciatica is a relatively common form of low back and leg pain, the true meaning of the term is often misunderstood. Sciatica is a set of symptoms rather than a diagnosis for what is irritating the nerve and causing the pain. This point is important, because treatment for sciatica or sciatic symptoms will often be different, depending upon the underlying cause of the symptoms.
Listed below are just a few of the common causes of sciatic pain, however, is by no means exhaustive. If you feel that you may have any of these conditions or symptoms please feel free to contact the clinic for advice or an appointment.
- Disc bulge or prolapse– (often incorrectly referred to as a “slipped disc”). There are many causes of a disc bulge/ prolapse, it is most commonly associated with bending, lifting and twisting, however, chronic repetitive strain and overuse is also very common. Osteopaths are very familiar with treating these injuries, the recovery time greatly depends on the extent of the discal damage (commonly between 4-12 weeks)
- Spondylitis/ Spondylosis– This is a general degenerative spinal condition that we will all suffer from eventually, some earlier than others depending on the level of trauma and strain on the spine during our lives. The term Spondylitis refers to wear and tear in the facet joints at the back of the spine, thinning of the intervertebral discs and narrowing of the (“foramen”) holes where the spinal nerves appear from, thus potentially causing nerve irritation/compression (sciatica). Other symptoms associated with this condition are stiffness and reduced mobility of the spine, inflammation in the spinal joints and tight/painful spinal muscles. Osteopathy can help by mobilizing the spine, decompression of the nerves and reducing the tension in the muscles.
- Spinal Stenosis– a condition wherein the spinal canal (the spaces through which the spinal cord runs) narrows and compresses the spinal cord, cauda equina, and/or sciatic nerve roots. This narrowing can be caused by bone spurs, slippage of a vertebra, inflammation, or herniated disc which decreases available space for the spinal cord, thus pinching and irritating nerves from the spinal cord that travel to the sciatic nerves.
- Piriformis Syndrome– a condition where the sciatic nerve gets pinched by a muscle in the buttock (“piriformis muscle”). In 15% of the population the sciatic nerve runs through the muscle instead of under it making it easy to irritate especially if the muscle is very tight or in spasm due to altered function of the spine or pelvis. This condition is known as a neuropathy.
- Trigger points– these are very common and can be found in almost everyone and can cause varying levels of pain. They are classified as exquisitely tender points within a muscle. They are caused by chronic overuse and fatigue in the muscle and result in shortened contracted muscle fibers that can get so painful in some cases they can refer pain to a distant sight/ other parts of the body. Some people refer to these as “knot’s in a muscle”. The treatment is soft tissue massage, stretching and cryotherapy (ICE).
- Pregnancy– pressure on the sciatic nerve is common in pregnancy due to the developing fetus growing inside the uterus and taking up increasing amounts of space inside the pelvis and pressing on the sciatic nerve. Other causes are due to postural changes especially in the lower back (lumbar spine) and pelvis associated with fetal development.
- Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction/ Sacroiliitis– The SIJ’s are the two large joints in the back of the pelvis and are extremely important for spinal stability, mechanics, walking, force transferring and giving birth. They are very well known to osteopaths because they regularly cause problems and are often the root cause of other spinal problems. As the sciatic nerves run directly over each of these joints it is very common that the nerve can be irritated by inflammation associated with SIJ dysfunction and sometimes mimic a disc bulge.
- Postural fatigue/poor posture-, repetitive strain and overuse, muscular spasms and tears, ligament strains and tears in the lower back and pelvis can also cause the lower back to spasm, lock, inflame and potentially cause sciatic pain too.
Arthritis / Osteoarthritis is a normal degenerative, inflammatory joint condition that can effect any of our joints. It is most commonly seen in people over the age of 50 (however, can effect younger people) and can vary in severity depending on the amount of overuse/ strain, number of injuries and the severity of injuries the joint or surrounding joints.
It often presents with stiff aching joints, some people report hearing and feeling creaking/ crunching noises from the joints (crepitis) and some people report loud audible clicks.
There are several classifications of arthritis and the treatment for each case is individual assessed and tailored to them depending on the severity and classification. Some common types of arthritis include “osteoarthritis”, a normal degenerative joint condition seen in the elderly or as a result of chronically overused and severely injured joints in younger patients. Symptoms can be eased with osteopathic treatment along with advice about joint supplements, diet and exercises.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that can affect any joint in the body. It is more serious in its presentation as the extent of joint damage can be greater due to the way the body attacks and breaks down its own cartilage and ligaments. Most patients with RA will have seen a rheumatologist for a diagnosis and medication. After the acute inflammatory stage has eased then osteopathy can be very good to help mobilise the effected joints, decompress any stiff spinal joints and ease the muscular tension and pain in the surrounding areas. Osteopathy can greatly help by taking the pressure off effected joints and allowing other joints to take any extra strain and pressure.
There are many more arthritic joint conditions that have not been mentioned here, however, osteopaths are familiar with most types and can often greatly ease suffering and give useful self management advice including tips about diet and foods to avoid, lifestyle and exercise and joint/ dietary supplements to reduce the frequency of a relapse and help ease pain when the arthritis is active.
Please contact one of our osteopaths of you have any questions about your specific arthritis and how osteopathy can help you.
Ergonomic & Postural Advice
All the osteopaths at Tomlinson Osteopaths are fully trained and qualified to perform work place assessments and provide a written report highlighting important changes to individuals work stations to maximise comfort and reduce the risk of continued injury.
This is a specialist area and would need to be booked separately as the osteopath would need to visit the workplace and assess the workstation. Other advice in the workplace such as lifting and handling can also be arranged by appointment During a consultation advice may also be given with a view to helping improve comfort in the car, at home and at work.
Nerves can get trapped, compressed and irritated almost anywhere in the body and it is the osteopaths job to discover what nerve is involved, where it is trapped and what is trapping it. These three factors vary greatly in individuals and therefore the treatments required may be different for each individual.
Nerves trapped in the low back can cause sciatic pain, nerves trapped in the wrist can cause carpel tunnel syndrome, nerves trapped in the neck can cause pain, pins and needles, tingling or numbness in one or both arms and hands. They can even cause sharp headaches and pain behind the eye.
Nerve pain can be excruciating and patients often notice pain, weakness, pins and needles, tingling, numbness, throbbing or deep aching in the arms, hands, legs and feet depending on the extent of nerve compression and what nerve is being trapped. If you have any of these symptoms you should seek advice as long term nerve compression can lead to permanent damage and reduced function.
Patients presenting with neurological symptoms will all receive a thorough examination and a full neurological assessment to discover the cause and sight of the nerve compression.
Neck and Shoulder pain
Neck pain, aching and pains between the shoulder blades, headaches, stiff shoulder girdles, reduced neck mobility and muscular pains are all very common complaints osteopaths are very familiar with. They often arise from stiff and locked joints in the upper back and neck, rib dysfunction and chronically tight muscles around the shoulders.
These types of problems can be caused by road traffic accidents such as whiplash, long term overuse and strain due to heavy manual work, sedentary work habits (computer users), sporting activities, high levels of stress or sharp violent neck movements to list but a few.
These complaints are often eased following a course of osteopathy as we aim to restore normal biomechanics to the spinal joints and ease muscular tension. Advice about correct seating posture for those who have sedentary desk jobs or commute long distance is also very important in managing the condition.