“Back ache” is a general term used to describe pain, stiffness, tension or blockage of the rear area of the body around the spinal column. In order to treat this problem, the precise point of pain needs to be identified: when located in the upper back, in the area of the scapulae (shoulder blades), this is referred to as Dorsalgia (upper back pain), while if located in the lower region it is known as Lumbago (lower back pain). One other type of back pain that originates from the rear area of the pelvis is known as Sacroiliitis.
Lower back pain
When we talk about lower back pain or Lumbago, we mean a feeling of stiffness, pain or tension in the lower back region. This is one of the most common musculo-skeletal dysfunctions in modern times. Lower back pain can have various causes, including a herniated disc, inflammation of the facet joints, muscular contracture and visceral issues.
Lumbosciatica is a variant of lumbago and involves the sciatic nerve. The latter can become inflamed for various reasons, but the main one stems from a herniated disc, which compresses the root of the nerve in the region L4-L5-S1. Typical symptoms, together with lower back pain, include:
- burning sensation
- tingling sensation
- sensation of shock to the lower limb, in particular at the back of the thigh and calf.
If the clinical outlook is serious (such as constant pain and difficulty walking) and physiotherapy does not achieve the intended effects, the final solution is normally surgical intervention.
Dorsal back pain
We speak of dorsal back pain when the pain is located in the area from the base of the neck, through the shoulder blades down to the first lumbar vertebrae. Pain in this area is often acute, targeted and occurs after physical strain.
Patients often complain of pain when breathing deeply and the discomfort can spread towards the front to the ribs and chest. The causes are often found to be in a blockage of a costovertebral joint or a strong muscular contracture in the paravertebral area or in the rhomboid muscles.
Sacroiliitis refers to the inflammation of one or both of the sacro-iliac joints. These joints join the sacrum to the iliac bone, which is part of the hip complex. They support the weight of the upper body and are an important point where the torso and lower limbs are connected. Typical symptoms consist in lower back pain which at times can spread to the front towards the groin, pain in the buttocks and in some cases pain spreading to the back of the thigh or calf. The main causes lie in a blockage of the joint or strong contracture of the pyriform muscle or gluteus.
Treatments for back ache
In the case of back ache, the best thing to do is to seek advice from a skilled physiotherapist who after careful examination and thanks to specific tests will be able to identify the cause of the problem and when necessary, refer you to a specialist for instrumental diagnosis by means of X-rays or MRI.
Once the cause is identified, the correct treatments can be decided on, which may include techniques of manual therapy, instrumental therapy (such as Tecar Therapy) and rehabilitation exercises to be carried out in the gym or independently at home.