Are you Having Shooting Pain Down Your Leg? Here’s What You Should Do About it
Did you wake up one morning and start noticing sharp, shooting pain into your buttocks, down the back of your leg, or even into your foot? Has that pain continued to progress and bother you during your daily activities? Is that pain unrelated to growing pains? Does the pain bother you while you are sitting, driving, working, or even walking? You just can’t seem to shake the pain away?
If so, you are probably experiencing radicular pain called sciatica. Sciatica is a common diagnosis that is affecting millions of Americans daily and causing disability in the workplace. Sciatica is commonly seen in people between the ages of 25 to 45 years old.
So, what is Sciatica?
Sciatica is when your sciatic nerve gets compressed by another spinal structure, usually causing pain in your low back, pain in your buttocks on one side, and/or down the back of your leg. Unlike other types of hip and leg pain, it typically makes your legs weak and unsteady over a prolonged period. Sciatica pain can cause changes in sensation and muscle power of your leg, making you feel weak or unsteady. Sciatic nerve irritation usually occurs at the L5 or S1 level of the spine.
Each individual’s symptoms can present differently. Not all sciatica cases are the same. Additionally, sciatic symptoms can present due to several causes or day to day life situations. Don’t ignore shooting pain down your leg or pain shooting down from your buttocks.
These may be symptoms of sciatica pain – or they might something else, and you need to diagnose them properly.
One of the most common reasons why we see pain down the leg/sciatica is due to sitting and poor posture. There’s the new saying “sitting is the new smoking”, my belief isn’t that sitting is as hazardous as it sounds but the fact we don’t move enough! Exercise is medicine. If your joints and body get “stuck” in the same sitting position for 8-10 hours a day guess what takes a big brunt of that force, your spine. Over time your discs become compressed for prolonged periods (like sitting at your desk for 8-10 hours) without moving and they can become irritated and compress your sciatic nerve causing shooting pain down your leg.
Nerves need movement, space, and blood flow, without that they can cause pain. One of the best ways to relieve sciatica symptoms is through repeated extension movements. By getting your spine into an upright position it takes the pressure off the nerves and discs in your back. This can even improve balance, too.
So, what can you do if you’re experiencing pain down your leg? Well, besides changing your posture and decreasing the frequency of time you spend sitting in one position, try these exercises below designed to get your spine into extension safely. Each exercise has a different goal but is geared towards helping you move better and more efficiently. Remember, movement is medicine!
Begin by lying down on your stomach with your hands in a push-up position. From there, extend your arms and elbows while trying to keep your stomach and hips flat on the table to get an arch through your back. Your symptoms should not increase down the affected leg. Slight discomfort in the back may be experienced and should go away with continued repetition. Perform this exercise 3 sets of 10 repetitions multiple times a day.
Supine Sciatic Nerve Glide
Start by lying on your back, bring your hip to about 90 degrees. From there grab behind your knee and extend your leg towards the ceiling. You’ll feel this stretch behind the leg and knee. Perform this exercise 3 sets of 10 repetitions multiple times a day.
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the table. Bring your belly button in and squeeze your glutes. From there lift your hips towards the ceiling and lower back down. If you feel pain or discomfort in the hamstrings or the back try squeezing your glutes or belly button in harder. Perform this exercise 3 sets of 10 repetitions daily.
Start on your hands and knees. Next, bring your belly button in to engage your core. From there, raise one arm towards the ceiling and lift the opposite leg. Repeat on the opposite side. Make sure to stay balanced throughout this exercise and try to avoid having your hips drop to one side. Perform this exercise 3 sets of 10 daily.
See a Physical Therapist
Physical therapists are trained movement specialists that can provide conservative treatment for sciatica-like pain. Research has shown that early conservative care for pain results in better and faster results than surgery or opioid/pain medication. Improving the strength of muscle groups like the antigravity muscles helps, too. A physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation to determine which areas of your body are tight or weak, causing movement dysfunction and sciatica pain. A physical therapist will provide a personalized program for you to get you feeling better faster!
You can see a physical therapist right away without a prescription from a medical doctor via direct access. You can find Jonathan Zaid and Drayer Physical Therapy through the BetterPT clinic location tool and BetterPT mobile app in addition to hundreds of other quality clinics in your area. The longer you wait to receive treatment for your pain, the longer it will take to heal. Therefore, make sure to seek treatment out as soon as you start feeling symptoms to get yourself feeling BETTER faster.