By Adena Mai-Jardine BA, PFT, RMT
Your back consists of stacked bones called vertebrae. There are discs between the vertebrae that act as shock absorbers and that allow the spine to bend. Each disc consists of a soft semi-fluid center (the nucleus) that is surrounded and held together by strong ligaments.
The discs in your spine can be the source of a great deal of back pain. This pain can range from a nagging ache and sciatic discomfort to excruciating pain that incapacitates you. There are simple measures you can take to reduce the risk of disc problems occurring and to reduce your pain once problems do occur.
To understand how disc pain happens, it is important to understand normal posture. When standing upright there is a natural inward curve in the lower back called a lumbar lordosis. With this natural lordosis, your body weight is distributed evenly over the discs.
The lordosis is lost whenever you slouch or bend forward. Back problems develop if you find yourself in these positions for long periods of time. This occurs because the vertebrae are placed in a position that pushes the nucleus backwards and stresses the ligaments at the back of the disc.
If the pressure on the ligaments is severe enough they may become weak and allow the soft inside part of the disc to bulge outward (prolapse) and press on the spinal nerves. This can cause sciatic pain in the buttock or down the leg.
Q & A ? What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that begins at the base of the spine and that passes through the buttocks and continues down the back of the thigh and into the lower leg. This nerve can become compressed or inflamed. If this occurs, pain begins to travel down the back of your leg. This pain is referred to as “sciatica”. Sciatica can be caused by a bulging disc, arthritis of the spine, a tight piriformis muscle in your buttocks and even trigger points in your muscles. Depending on the cause and the severity, you could also experience numbness, tingling or weakness in the leg. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your massage therapist as soon as possible for assessment and treatment. Next Month…Prevention and Back Exercises
Printed with permission of the Author: Adena Mai-Jardine BA, PFT, RMT
Massage Therapy & Holistic Centre 780-738-4769