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Recovery from back pain should not start with a photo shoot

Nagging, tight, shooting, stabbing, throbbing, sharp.What are we talking about?

If you guessed the right answer before you even got to this part of the column, you are probably dealing with lower back pain or sciatica, and you know all too well that those adjectives are nothing but a pain in the butt, literally for some and figuratively for others.

Back pain is a pretty general term and the origins can be from injury, or wear and tear of the tissues in the spinal column or muscles for a variety of reasons.

Sciatica is a symptom that comes from some disruption, “pinching” on the Sciatic nerve itself from spinal structures that have changed or degenerated.

Common reasons for both are herniated discs, degenerative changes in the spinal structures, or dysfunction in the dimple-producing joints on either side of your low back, the sacroiliac joints.

Please feel free to research any of these things online. As sure as the stars are in the sky, you will find more information than you can read in a lifetime. And, it’s got to be true because it’s on the internet.

So, if you are sitting there researching your back pain or sciatica, are you coming up with any solutions? Any real idea of how to get relief? Or are you like most people and just want to know what’s causing your pain?

If you are the latter, I’m sure an MRI crossed your mind in the past. It’s the easy, fast way to do something. And that’s unfortunately where we are in the world. No patience, no due process to go down a path of conservative treatment before we drop big bucks on fancy imaging machines.

Did you know that 80% of people of any age with zero back pain or sciatica will have an MRI that shows irregularities such as herniated or bulging discs, yet have zero symptoms?

I read a study recently that sent the same woman with back pain and sciatica to 10 different MRI facilities and the variety of conflicting diagnoses from those imaging tests were shocking.

I also read a few articles with titles such as:“MRI and X-Ray Often Worse than Useless for Back Pain” or “Oh, my aching wallet: MRI instead of physical therapy for low back pain leads to $4,793 higher price.”I encourage you to put those titles in your next search for answers.

Of course, I’m very biased.

I’m a physical therapist. But now strong evidence is easily found to support the fact that we need to flip the habit of the health care community on its head.

We need to send people with back pain or sciatica to physical therapy first and way before expensive imaging such as MRIs, instead of the other way around.

People with back pain who are seen in physical therapy within the first two weeks are significantly less likely to need pain pills, injections, or surgeries. And, that sounds pretty darn good to me, much better than laying in a small magnetic tube for an hour as money gets sucked out of your wallet into a virtual vortex to cover the cost.

If you are curious to know more about back pain and sciatica, and what a successful outcome looks like from treatment, there will be a free back pain and sciatica workshop on April 8 at the YMCA in Tamaqua, 1201 E. Broad St. The program begins at 2 p.m.

Registration is encouraged by calling 1-888-929-7677 or visiting www.achievarehab.com/workshop-back-sciatica.

Joel J. Digris is a Schuylkill County resident with a master’s degree in physical therapy. He is currently employed by Achieva Rehabilitation as an outpatient provider of physical therapy and serves residents in Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties.

The Times News Media Group do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the author do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Times News. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.