Back & Sciatic Pain

Comprehensive rehabilitation (rehab) programs offer a variety of treatments for low back pain. They may use physiotherapy, pain management with medicine and mental skills, and other medical treatments. These programs teach people how to care for their backs and how to prevent reinjury.

Local Physiotherapists

Anneliese Ruggeri

Anneliese Ruggeri

Middlebury, CT
Mr. Trevor Kwolek

Mr. Trevor Kwolek

Fonthill, ON
Chritine Bridle

Chritine Bridle

St Catherines, ON

Stacey Benmore, BSc, MSc (PT), Dip.Manip.PT, FCAMPT, Physiotherapist, discusses back problems from sitting.

Quiz: Do You Understand Back Pain?

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:


Lumbar back pain is the most common type of back pain.

Back pain symptoms can be mild or severe, and cervical (neck pain), thoracic (middle back pain), lumbar (lower back pain) or tailbone/sacral (coccydynia). Lumbar back pain is the most common type.

Back pain isn't caused by medical problems involving the gallbladder or kidneys.

Back pain can come from muscles, bones, joints or nerves. It can also be caused by medical problems involving the gallbladder, aorta, kidneys or pancreas.

Scoliosis is a back condition but it doesn't cause back pain.

Back pain causes include injury or activity, arthritis, back strain, sciatica, poor posture, aging and scoliosis.

Back pain symptoms include pain that radiates down your leg.

Back pain symptoms include shooting or stabbing pain, pain that radiates down the leg, muscle aches, pain that worsens when you walk, lift something, bend or stand, and pain that improves when you recline.

Most patients with back pain will require surgery.

In most cases, back pain will resolve on its own with treatment at home and over-the-counter medications. Some patients benefit from spinal traction, a physiotherapy technique that applies a longitudinal stretch to the reachable joints and soft tissues that is commonly used on the cervical, lumbar spine and thoracic spine. Surgery is not usually recommended.
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Gordon Bohlmann, BSc (PT), CGIMS, OMT, BSc HMS, Physiotherapist, discusses physiotherapy for sciatic pain.

Dr. Grant Lum, MD, CCFP, Dip Sports Med, Sports Medicine Physician, discusses lumbar pain and injuries, diagnosis and common treatment options.

Spinal Traction

Spinal traction is a physiotherapy treatment technique that applies a longitudinal stretch to the reachable joints and soft tissues, and it’s used commonly on the cervical spine and the lumbar spine, and also the thoracic spine by  Local physiotherapists.

So spinal traction is often used when there’s a spinal injury or there’s pain in spine or pain down the arms from, or the legs from nerve injuries. There are two ways that traction may be applied. First one is by physiotherapists using their hands, so that’s manual traction, and it tends to be very specific. Maybe a shorter duration of traction.

The second way that traction may be applied is through a decompression machine, where the patient lies on a machine and the traction is applied at a relatively low grade and weight but for a longer duration, up to about 30 minutes even.

Spinal traction has several effects on the spine. It can obviously decompress the spine and the reachable structures, such as the discs and the reachable joints, and therefore decrease irritation on the nerves by increasing the space in the, the, the spine where the nerves exit. It can also decrease muscle spasm, increase blood flow, and decrease sensitivity and pain in the spine.

The conditions that can often be helped are disc injuries, where there are nerve injuries or nerve pain down the arms and legs. It can help in advanced degenerative changes, such as stenosis. And it can help in just simply stiffness in the spine created by the joints from things such as sitting too long at the desk or traveling or lifting heavy objects.

So for a person that spinal traction might be helpful for, the first step is to see a physiotherapist to assess the condition and assign some symptoms and to eliminate any risks to the patient.

And when the patient receives spinal traction, there are some things that can happen after traction, such as post-traction soreness, which is quite normal. And, but generally it should be quite comfortable.

Traction can be used over time. Usually it’s over several weeks, two to three times a week, where the patient comes in and receives either by the physiotherapist or by machine, and the results are generally progressive, and people feel better as treatment goes on. Not every condition has a certain number of treatments a week. It’s dependent on the patient and the signs and symptoms of the patient.

You want to bring down your pain and any discomfort in your back and legs before continuing with exercise therapy because the muscles will strengthen and respond better to exercise after the pain and sensitivity has come down.

If people have more questions about spinal traction or if they think that it might help them, they should consult their physician just to rule out any risks and to see a physiotherapist to rule out any risks and assess them properly before applying traction.

Presenter: Mr. Carman Wong, Physiotherapist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Physiotherapist

What Causes Sciatic Pain of the Low Back - Marpole Physiotherapy

Sciatic pain or sciatica is a typical complaint that people will come into the clinic with, and what they usually mean by that is they have pain somewhere in their back or going down their leg.

It’s important to remember that sciatica or sciatic pain is really not a diagnosis but a set of symptoms by which people describe pain. So it’s very important to be assessed by a physiotherapist to determine where the pain is coming from because it could come from a number of different structures. Local Physiotherapy 

If we have a look at the lumbar pelvic spine, we have the vertebrae which are these bones over here. And the lumbar spine is comprised of the last five vertebral segments.

This is our sacrum or tailbone and these are the two hip or pelvic bones with the hip joints sitting on either side over here. And five of these nerve roots will join together to form the sciatic nerve, and we have one on each side one on the left and one on the right.

So because sciatica is a complaint which can affect any of the five nerve roots comprising of the big sciatic nerve, it’s very important for your physiotherapist to assess each one of these levels to determine what the cause might be.

So depending on where that nerve is becoming either irritated or compressed, we could have symptoms which mimic or are described as sciatica. They can be things like numbness or tingling going down the leg or into the foot, difficulty in controlling the muscles supplied by those nerves, pain, or uncoordination.

And so there are four common causes of sciatica. One might be a disc which in laymen’s terms is called a slipped disc. Really it’s a herniated disc in which the disc tissue gets torn and that can push on a nerve root.

The second could be something called spinal stenosis which is compression around the central part of the nerve inside the spinal column. The third most common cause is something called spondylolisthesis which is a big word that means one vertebra has slipped forward on another.

The last most common cause of sciatic pain is something called piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a muscle which runs through the pelvis from the sacral bone onto the hip bone. So as the sciatic nerve traverses this part the piriformis muscle can compress that sciatic nerve and that can give you pain further down.

Because we know that sciatica is a set of symptoms, rather than an actual diagnosis, it’s important to get an assessment by a physiotherapist experienced in dealing with sciatica to be able to accurately determine where the pain is coming from.

Typically when you see your physiotherapist he or she will do an assessment which consists of a subject of evaluation during which a number of questions are asked to determine the history of your pain and probable causes followed by an objective examination where your physiotherapist will use a variety of physical tests to put stress or lowered on various structures that could be responsible for the pain. An example of this would be a straight leg based test or stress tests of the lumbar spine joints to determine if they are at fault.

If you as a patient are complaining of pain in your buttock, lower back, or leg especially if that pain travels from the lower back down the leg or you’re experiencing symptoms of tingling, numbness, pins and needles, or you’re having trouble controlling the muscles in your lower back and leg, it’s very important to see a  local physiotherapist today to determine the causes of this pain.

You may visit a Local physiotherapist for information on what is, conditions, side effects, symptoms and treatments related to sciatic pain, back pain, lower back muscles and intramuscular therapy.

Presenter: Gordon Bohlmann, Physiotherapist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Physiotherapist

Mr. Carman Wong, BCScBiol, BCScPT, FCAMPT, CG (IMS), Physiotherapist, discuss spinal traction and back pain treatment.

Jackson Sayers, B.Sc. (Kinesiology), discusses isometric lower back exercises using body weight.

Local Sports Medicine Physicians

Dr. Ellen Smith

Dr. Ellen Smith

Sports Medicine Physician
Gaithersburg, MD
Dr. Vinay Chopra

Dr. Vinay Chopra

Sports Medicine Physician
Freehold, NJ
Dr. Naresh Rao

Dr. Naresh Rao

Sports Medicine Physician
New York, NY

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