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Low Back Pain & Sciatica


Low Back Pain is pain in the lower part of your spine. There are many names which people use to describe Low Back Pain. Sometimes the terms used can be inaccurate or can be misleading to the true pathology in the back. Some of the common names are lumbago, sciatica, slipped disc and disc bulge.

As a general term, Low Back Pain can include pain in the lumbar spine, sacro-iliac joint (SIJ), pelvis and buttocks. Up to 80% of the population will report low back pain at some stage in their life. In the majority of cases lower back pain resolves completely within a few weeks, though it is not uncommon to have a recurrence of lower back pain again in the future.

Most commonly, lumbar pain is a result of damage or degeneration (wear-and-tear) of the discs which sit between the individual vertebrae. The terms sometimes used to describe an injury to the disc are slipped disc, disc bulge, prolapsed disc, disc herniation or disc protrusion – these terms are often interchangeable and can mean the same thing.

In reality, as many as half of the adult population will have signs of degeneration in their lumbar discs though it should also be considered that a majority of the population with disc degeneration do not actually have lower back pain at any one time.

Lower back pain can also occur as a result of strains to the ligaments which support the small joints between the vertebrae or due to gradual wear and tear and subsequent inflammation of the joint surfaces (arthritis).

Lower back pain can sometimes cause pain to be referred to the leg and this is commonly referred to as “sciatica””. The Sciatic nerve is a large nerve which runs from the lower part of the lumbar spine to the back of the leg and down to the heel, foot and toes. Sciatica occurs when the nerve is irritated and pain is felt along part or all of the distribution of the nerve.