What’s the Difference Between Back Pain and Sciatica?

sciatica pain relief Queens & Astoria, NY

“Back pain” is a general term used to describe a wide range of physical symptoms. It is a broad-based term that can describe physical pain from a wide range of causes. Sciatica is a specific type of back pain, and fortunately, it is usually very simple to identify and treat because of its unique symptoms. Hands-On Physical Therapy in Astoria, NY, can work with you to relieve back pain symptoms, sciatica pain, arthritis and other conditions that are causing you pain. Contact us today if you want to learn more about how our physical therapy services can help provide you with back pain relief.

Back Pain

Back pain can occur anywhere along the spine, from your tailbone all the way up to the base of your neck. The source can be anything from a strained muscle to an injury to the bone structures or nerves along the spine. Back pain can be long-lasting (chronic) or a short-term problem (acute) that goes away after a few days. There are three main classifications used to describe back pain:

  • Referred Pain: This is a dull, aching pain that can vary in intensity and might even move around to different parts of the back. It can be caused by a structural injury or degenerative disease to the discs in the spine.
  • Axial Pain: This is a type of pain that can be caused by a strain in the back muscles. Axial pain can also be dull and aching, and it might come and go at certain times of the day.
  • Radicular Pain: Disc compression, inflammation or other problems can cause a spinal nerve root to be “pinched.” This causes searing pain along the nerve root, which can extend out along the arms or down into your legs. Sciatica is always classified as radicular pain.

Sciatica Pain

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It originates in the lower spine, where it splits into two long nerves that stretch down to your feet on each side. The sharp, searing pain from sciatica can extend all the way down the sciatic nerve to your foot in some cases. Other sciatica symptoms can include numbness, tingling or weakness in the affected leg or foot. A herniated disc, bone spur or other structural problems are usually the cause of sciatica.

Sciatica Pain Relief at Hands-On Physical Therapy

We will use diagnostic imaging to try to pinpoint the exact source of your back pain or sciatica. This allows your physical therapist to design the best course of treatment for your specific problem. Physical therapy treatments for back pain and sciatica can include myofascial release ― a type of therapeutic massage to relieve spinal pressure ― and other manual therapy techniques. Your therapist can also teach you specific stretches and exercises to achieve back pain relief. Our techniques at Hands-On Physical Therapy can also provide pain relief for arthritis, sports injuries, work-related injuries and other conditions that cause you pain. Contact us today to set up your first appointment!


Sciatica is a specific type of back pain caused by restriction or “pinching” of the sciatic nerve. If you’re looking for sciatica pain relief, Hands-On Physical Therapy in Astoria, NY, can provide gentle physical therapy treatments to help. Sciatica pain, back pain, arthritis, sports injuries, work-related injuries and more can be gently treated at Hands-On Physical Therapy.


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