Pinched Nerve in the Lower

Physiotherapy for a Pinched Nerve in the Lower Back


Back pain is incredibly common, with most of us experiencing it from time to time to some degree. A pinched nerve is very often a cause of lower back pain and can disrupt daily activities, work and sport.

What differentiates pinched nerve pain from other lower back pain is that the pain or a pins and needles numbness runs down one or both legs. Also known as sciatic pain or sciatica, the pain is referred from the lower back but may go down as far as the toes.

Symptoms are often worse in the morning upon waking and improve with movement (until the movement is excessive). Extended periods of sitting or walking can exacerbate the symptoms.

Causes of a Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve in the lower back is often due to spinal disc issues. The discs in the spine sit between the bones for the purpose of cushioning and shock absorption. If repetitive inappropriate load is put on the spine, then over time the disc cannot continue to tolerate the load and can sustain micro traumas. Eventually the disc may bulge or extrude through the outer layers.

The nerves from the spinal cord exit the spine very close to the discs, so if a disc is bulging it can contact the nerves and put pressure on them – that is what we call a pinched nerve. Degenerative processes in the joints and bones of the spine can cause them to enlarge, and this is another potential cause of the nerves being pinched as they exit the spine.

Treatment for a Pinched Nerve-Physio St Kilda, Blackburn, Essendon

Physiotherapy is a highly regarded option for treating lower back pain and it can be very successful in eliminating the symptoms and restoring normal movement from a pinched nerve injury. Physio helps you resume your usual activities such as work and exercise and is carried out over a period of time to minimise the likelihood of the symptoms returning.

For physiotherapy to be successful for a pinched nerve in the lower back, it is important that three main aspects are adhered to:

1.   Symptom Reduction

Physiotherapy can improve pain and mobility quite quickly, with specific treatment depending on the individual, the nature of the pinched nerve and their movement capacity. A thorough assessment by a physiotherapist is critical. Treatment to help ease symptoms is usually a combination of soft tissue massage, lumbar joint mobilisations, dry needling, taping and retraining the lower back and pelvic muscles.

Some gentle exercises will be recommended and less pain, better movement and better sitting and walking endurance can be expected in the early part of rehabilitation.

Sometimes, pain relief medication may be useful in the early stages, and heat packs or warm showers can also help manage the pain.

2.   Activity Modification

One of the most frustrating things about being injured is the impact it has on everyday activities such as work and looking after a family. Certain activities may need to be avoided altogether initially, but a physio will focus rehab treatment on being able to continue normal activities but in a modified way while recovering.

For example, if you work all day at a desk, it may be advised to get up every 20 minutes to reduce the pressure that sitting for long periods has on the back. This modification will likely prevent having to take a prolonged period of time off work.

3.   Back, Pelvic & Hip Strengthening

Exercise is the best treatment for physical injuries and the team at Melbourne Sports Physio St Kilda understands that. If you have a pinched nerve in the lower back, physio is vital to feeling better and moving well, and it also reduces the chance of the symptoms recurring.

Your sports physiotherapist will undertake a thorough assessment of the pain and movement to build a tailored treatment plan for you and your specific issue. It is never a one treatment fits all approach.

Gentle stretches and some strengthening exercises that are carried out regularly at home will help maintain the improvements achieved through physiotherapy sessions. As the pain decreases, exercises can increase in intensity to further strengthen the area. The back will reach a point where it will be strong enough to handle normal activities and movements without any pain. This may take 6-12 weeks, depending on the severity of the injury and the commitment to the rehab.

With centres across the city, call or make an appointment online with Melbourne Sports Physio in St Kilda, Blackburn and Essendon if you are suffering a pinched nerve and are in need of expert spinal physiotherapy. The qualified and experienced physiotherapists will have you moving pain free as soon as possible.

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