Sciatica, A Real Pain in the Butt!
Have you ever felt a twinge in your lower back immediately followed up by nerve pain down one or both of your legs? Have you ever gotten severe pain in your butt after a long car ride, getting up from your favorite chair after binge watching The Bachelor or from something as minor as bending down to tie your shoes?
You go to your physician after a couple days of rest. Your doctor may give you a script for physical therapy with the diagnosis as lumbar radiculopothy (pain that starts in the lumbar spine and goes down your leg) or sciatica.
But what really IS sciatica? The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body and it stems from the lumbar spine, travels down deep in your glute muscles (your butt) and down the back of the leg(s).
The sciatic nerve can be suffocated by the piriformis muscle, as the sciatic nerve runs underneath the piriformis. This can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve which leads to nerve pain down the leg. In some people the sciatic nerve overlaps the piriformis, but it’s rare.
Sciatica can be caused by many different factors including but not limited to age, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and a job that requires you to sit at a desk for long periods of time.
Being overweight can cause your back to flare up due to excess weight pushing down onto your spine, nerves and muscles surrounding your low back. Same goes to sitting for long periods of time or working at your desk with minimal breaks. The muscles tighten up, which will increase stress on the sciatic nerve. It’s important to stand up every 15-20 minutes and walk a little so that your back doesn’t flare up, even if it means walking in a circle around your chair while yelling at The Bachelor for giving out the final rose to the contestant you didn’t like. Stretching the muscles in your legs (like your piriformis) will help reduce the pressure on your back and nerves, and help to reduce or prevent pain.
If you’re experiencing back pain, give us a call at 203-978-3343 to schedule an evaluation with one of our physical therapists!