If you’ve ever been afflicted with back pain, you’re already aware of how excruciating the unpleasant experience can be. Things as simple as tying your shoe or bending to pick something on the floor can become nearly impossible because of the debilitating pain.
About 50 to 60% of the population will experience back pain during their lifetime. This percentage is always on the increase. However, most of the people with back pain used to think that they have sciatica. Whereas, that’s not always the case. So, what’s the difference between pain down in the sciatica nerve and back pain? What are the causes, and how can they be treated?
Understanding Back Pain
Back pain is as complex as it is unique. It can be chronic (long-lasting) or acute (short term), which goes away after a couple of days. Sciatica, osteoarthritis… are part of the many types of back pain.
Back pain is mostly classified as;
This is caused by muscle strains. This pain is usually aching and dull. It is the most short-lived.
This is caused by a degenerative disease or structural damage to the herniated disc. This takes time to heal.
Radicular pain is caused by compression of one of the spinal nerve roots that comprise the sciatic nerve. This is mostly known as sciatica. The compression may be as a result of several conditions like spinal disc herniation, spinal stenosis, spinal tumours, sacroiliitis, and piriformis syndrome.
What Is Back Pain?
Back pain is a more rounded word used to describe physical pain from a vast range of causes and diverse symptoms. This pain mostly occurs along the spine.
What Is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the longest in the body and starts from the lower back, running down to the leg through the buttocks. The sciatic nerve pain or sciatica is a specific type of back pain, mostly felt in the buttocks, the leg and down to the foot, and sometimes, the lower back and one side of the body.
Injury or pressure to the sciatic nerve can lead to pains in the lower back that can spread to the buttocks, hips, posterior aspect of the leg and into the foot.
Common symptoms of sciatica include lower back pain that radiates to the buttocks, hips, and down to the leg. Numbness and weakness are also common.
How Can I Tell The Difference Between Them?
Back pain does not always involve the sciatic nerve. It doesn’t move down to the leg. The pain is always at the back. When it comes sciatica, the pain extends down to the hips, buttocks, leg, and into the foot.
Treatment Of Back Pain And Sciatica
There are various methods of addressing sciatica. Imaging tests like CT scan, MRI, X-ray can come into play. Over the counter pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen can help reduce the pain. Also, therapies like massage, yoga, acupuncture, and chiropractic adjustments can help. In severe cases, surgery or injection of steroids into the spine area can become the alternative.
While some of these methods can help relieve your pain, they may seem to fail you in the long run. With back pain or sciatica, addressing the root cause of the problem with a local back & sciatica specialist near you is always the best option.