There are two types of leg pain… REFERRED and RADIATING. leg pain… OR BOTH. One is Sciatica- the other is not… but they can feel similar and be felt in the same places- in the back, buttock, hamstring, or calf area.
Referred pain is just as it sounds… pain referred or signals sent from one place to another. So, in the spine- the structures like the joints and discs in the back can send pain signals to parts of the body (other than just the back) into the buttock and down the leg. Depending on which structure is irritated will determine where you feel your symptoms… Referred pain is “non specific” and LARGER in coverage than radiating pain. It is often described as deep and achy and hard to pin point exactly…
On the other hand- Radiating pain often involves irritation or compression of the nerve in the back… often termed as sciatica. Radiating pain takes a more specific path- and is often described as electric, shooting, or burning… you might even feel numbness or tingling.
And because a herniated DISC is the number one cause of SCIATICA many people have BOTH types of pain… which can be felt in the buttock, hamstring, or calf area.
The key to solving either of these is to understand the “TRIGGERS” or the activities, things, or positions that make your back, buttock, leg, or calf pain worse. Once you understand what makes it worse- you can often make it better.
Natural treatment involves using movement as medicine to move the spine and leg in ways that reduce pressure on painful structures allowing your body to heal.
I know- complicated right? Well, if you’re in the Royersford, Limerick, Collegeville, Phoenixville, or Trappe, PA area- and have questions about back pain treatment or need specialized physical therapy- call 484 552 3767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know that the biggest predictor of whether or not you’ll have lower back surgery is your ZIP CODE? AND people who have an MRI are more likely to have spine surgery. Even more fishy… if the surgeon who recommends the MRI owns the MRI machine, well- the likelihood of spinal surgery increases 34%. – (Lurie, Birkmeyer et al. 2003).
If you live in the Limerick, Royersford, Phoenixville, or Collegeville area… you’re aware that surgery centers (Rothman) are popping up everywhere. And you guessed it… the more surgeons in your area… the more likely you are to have back surgery- NOT COOL… and straight up wrong if you ask me.
With spinal surgery, especially spinal fusions, on the rise… I can’t help but ask myself- What’s going on? Why not PT 1st…
And, I’d be okay with more spine surgery… if research supported that it was the best thing for people with back pain…
Unfortunately, commercials and many surgeons are still recommending fusions despite growing evidence that suggests spinal fusion is NO BETTER THAN conservative treatment (physical therapy).
Spinal fusions were originally performed to help those with severe scoliosis, fractures, and a condition where the spine is unstable (fusing the bones helps make it stable again)… they were not designed to help people with general back pain.
The only true reasons for back surgery are for problems where your nerves are being compromised… losing function- if you notice severe leg weakness or numbness in your leg that is getting worse, or loss of bowel or bladder function. In these cases, back surgery may be used to restore health of the nerve.
Here’s a video I created that chats about when you need back surgery…
I’m consistently amazed by the number of people who have general lower back pain that are recommended to have injections or even surgery as the first step in relieving their back pain or sciatica. Makes no sense.
So why do people continue to get spine surgery and whose fault is it anyway? 3 reasons that I can think of…
1- People think it will be a “quick fix” to their pain.
2- People/society continues to have a “fix me” vs “fix myself” mindset.
3- Healthcare providers not advocating for or educating their patients as they should (lack of time, insurance constraints, MONEY?!)
The takehome? If you’ve got lower back pain- stay active, be informed about your options, and remember- surgeons do surgery!
If you live in the Limerick, Royersford, Phoenixville, Collegeville, Valley Forge, King of Prussia, or Philadelphia area call 484 552 3767 to resolve your back pain naturally.
1. Institute of Report from the Committee on Advancing Pain Research., 2011)
2. Surgical predictors: Lurie JD, Birkmeyer NJ, Weinstein JN. Rates of advanced spinal imaging and spine surgery. Spine. Mar 15 2003;28(6):616-620.
3. Mannion AF, Brox JI, Fairbank JC. Consensus at last! Long-term results of all randomized controlled trials show that fusion is no better than non-operative care in improving pain and disability in chronic low back pain. Spine. 2016;16:588-50