Sciatica & Pain Down the Leg

By Jared Ernest, Physical Therapist

JOI Discusses Sciatica and Pain Down the Leg.

The nerves that leave your lower lumbar spine join to form the sciatic nerve.  The nerve that provides sensation and controls the muscles of your lower leg. Compressive pain, or nerve related pain, occurs when the nerve roots that leave the spine are irritated or pinched. If this happens, the pressure or irritation on the nerve roots can interfere with the normal function of the sciatic nerve causing you to experience sciatica pain down the leg.

Herniated Disc


Pinched human sciatic nerve

A herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica.  Even carrying a wallet in your back pocket can attribute to the condition. One of the earliest signs of pressure on a nerve root can be numbness in the area supplied by the nerve. Pain usually persists in the same area, normally extending below the knee to the foot.  Another sign is  you may feel more comfortable standing than sitting.  Sitting is the most painful position for most herniated disc patients.

Low Back Pain 

You may also have accompanying low back, buttock, and hip pain, as well as weakness in your leg or foot. Straining, stooping, coughing, and sneezing can make the pain worse. In some cases where there’s pressure on a nerve root, it’s not uncommon to not feel pain in your back. Also, the muscles that the nerve controls may become weak and your reflexes may disappear. This happens because the pressure on your nerve. roots interferes with the signals from your brain to your muscles, so there’s no signal going from the brain to the muscle to tell it to contract.
Your doctor may order X-rays or other diagnostic tests to help determine the correct cause and best treatment plan.  To read more about the low back please read this article: low back pain


Sciatica Treatment

Sciatic Nerve

Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica

Sciatica is a common injury in the lower back that causes pain. There are several physical therapy treatments that JOI Rehab performs in order to heal sciatica pain. Stretching and joint mobilization, which is a hands-on technique to improve mobility of the joint.  Joint mobs can also help to treat low back pain and sciatica.  Medical massage or soft tissue mobilization, has become much more popular in treating low back pain injuries such as sciatica.  The goal of therapy is to centralize the pain to it’s origin in the spine.  Pain running down the leg is progression in your condition.  Pain which stops going down your leg is a good sign.  To learn other treatments, please read 3 sciatic nerve stretches. 

Sciatic Nerve Stretch

Piriformis Muscle Stretch for Sciatic Nerve Pain

For more stretches for the lower back please watch this video from The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute: Lower Back Stretches You Can Do at Home

Other Treatments

Dry needling an alternative physical therapy treatment, is also useful in healing sciatica symptoms. Ergonomic education is important in treating low back pain.  The source of most of the pain comes from how people sit and/or stand for extended periods at a time. Lastly, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy diet and exercise as much as possible. If you have an interest in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045

JOI and JOI Rehab

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

By: Jared Ernest, Physical Therapist 

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