One of the reasons that back pain is such a chronic problem for many people is that they rely solely on self-diagnosis, which often leads to temporary treatments that don’t address the source of the pain. Even if your self-diagnosis is correct, genuine treatment will need to address the symptoms as well as the source of the pain to find any lasting relief.
Many people start to feel pain in the lower back accompanied by a bit of tingling down the hip, buttocks and thigh and the first thing they think is “sciatica”. While what you are feeling may be the result of a pinched or exposed sciatic nerve, there is often a larger problem that is causing the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Only when you figure out why you have sciatica can you begin to undergo an effective pain management plan.
On average sciatica affects adults between the age range of 30 to 50 years, and this is the population most likely to chalk their pain up to age and muscle deterioration and are less likely to seek medical help right away. Sciatica can be caused by a range of problems that include nerve damage, herniated or slipped discs or spinal problems. To determine the source of the sciatica will require a range of tests for a proper diagnosis.
A common diagnostic tool used to diagnose the cause of sciatica is a range of motion test. Although a general medical practitioner may perform this test, you will get better results and a more accurate diagnosis from a spine specialist. The specialist may require a referral from your primary physician before agreeing to see you, to make sure you don’t suffer from general back pain.
Before your appointment with the spine specialist you will need to pay more attention to your body. You will be asked detailed questions regarding your lower back pain so be prepared to answer the following questions:
- When is the pain the most unbearable?
- What activities lead to lower back pain?
- How long does the pain last?
- What treatments help relieve the back pain?
- How long have you been experiencing lower back pain?
- Does the pain extend to the hip, buttocks and thigh?
- Is the pain on one side of the leg, or both?
Answering these questions will not only give you insight into what you can do to relieve the pain, but it will also help the physician diagnose the underlying source of your back pain. It will also let the specialist know if a range of motion test will be a beneficial diagnostic tool.
In many instances a range of motion test will provide a conclusive diagnosis so that you and your physician can create a pain therapy regimen just for you. In some instances however, additional tests will be required to confirm the diagnosis or look for another cause for the pain.
Range Of Motion Test
During the diagnostic period, the physician will examine your range of motion in the affected area. Range of motion simply refers to how well you are able to move in the area of the pain as well as surrounding areas. For example if you suffer from sciatica your gait may be off or your ability to bend may be restricted.
The physician will look for signs of abnormal spinal curvature or weakness by looking at the alignment of the spine. By observing your range of motions the doctor will be able to determine how well you can manipulate your limbs in different directions, how far you can extend and how the pain spreads during these movements.
Range of motion tests can provide the physician with great insight into far more than your mobility. The doctor will be noting muscle strength in the affected area, any changes to your sciatic nerve or other nerves, muscle reflexes and responses and muscle imbalance.
Once the range of motion test has diagnosed your sciatica, your physician will be better equipped to determine what type of treatment will best treat your symptoms. Physical therapy is the most common method of treatment for sciatica and underlying causes because it can be tailored to strengthen the particular muscles most affected on each person. These stretches and exercises will improve flexibility and posture while alleviating pain.
By identifying your pain and taking immediate action to get a diagnosis and treatment, the more likely you are to have a successful treatment.
Written By: Updated: June 29,2011