Sciatica is a nerve pain that originates in the gluteal area. It comes from an injury or when the sciatic nerve is irritated. It consists of five nerve roots: two located in the lower back (known as the lumbar spine) and three in the sacrum. These nerve roots form two sciatic nerves: one runs through your hips, glutes and down a leg below the knee and the other continue down your leg and into your foot and toes. When one feels lower back pain that radiates down the leg, it can come from this nerve. It can come from irritation, inflammation, compression or pinching that is located in the lower back.
Sciatica pain differ and can be described as either a burning, electric or stabbing pain or a sharp and shooting pain. This pain can be continuous or can come and go. The pain can get worse if you have a sudden body movement (such as a sneeze), or if you are sitting or standing for long periods of time. It can occur on both legs, but it is more common to only affect one leg at a time. It can come gradually or suddenly and are usually seen in individuals that lead an inactive lifestyle or weak core. It can also be from someone that has an active, physically demanding job or improper posture while lifting and other strength training exercises.
The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated or slipped disk that causes irritation and pressure on a nerve root. Disks are the cushion between the spine and when it is disrupted, it can cause the disk to herniate which presses on the sciatic nerve.
Symptoms of Sciatica
- Moderate to severe pain in lower back, gluteal region and down the leg
- “Pins and needles” tingling feeling in legs, toes, or feet
- With movement, there is minimal movement or more pain
- Weakness, numbness while moving the leg
Sciatica Physical Therapy and Exercises
- Extension and flexion back exercises
- Back extension (superman)
- Forward flexion
- Glute bridge and glute dips (building core stability and glute strength)
- Hip flexion
- Knee extension
- Bird dog