Anatomy of the Sciatic Nerve

“What is sciatica and do I have it?” I get this question ALL the time and many people (even many medical professionals) use this term synonymously with general low back pain, which isn’t true. So let me try to clarify.

Sciatica, by definition means that the sciatic nerve is irritated and likely inflamed. I’m sure your next question is….”Well, what causing my sciatic nerve to be irritated?” So here it is.

There are many possible causes of sciatica.

The most common causes of sciatica are bulging disc, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis or piriformis syndrome.  The common factor of these causes is the pinched sciatic nerve or nerve roots, hence the irritation and inflammation. To learn more specific about the sciatica causes, check this out

So it is highly unlikely that your sciatic nerve becomes painful without something physically irritating it.

The #1 chief complaint of sciatica is the pain in the BACK of the thigh that can travel into the calf, ankle or foot. 

So if you are feeling pain in the front, inner, or side of the thigh, you are probably not experiencing sciatica. It is another nerve.

Sciatic nerve pain is generally described to be burning, sharp with possible numbness and tingling sensations. 

So far sounds that you may have sciatica? Click here as I dive into more details about the signs and symptom of sciatica.

Ok, now you’ve learned about sciatica signs and symptoms- they sound very familiar to you? If so, you’re probably wondering, “ What causes sciatic nerve pain and how did this happen to me?”

The answer to that is, it depends. 

There are many, many common sciatica causes and typically it is more likely that your symptoms developed over time rather than instantaneously, possibly with the exception of trauma.

While sciatica or sciatic nerve pain may be a pain in the a**, no pun intended, there are solutions to either decrease your pain or even get rid of it.

Sciatica treatment does exist! There is such a thing as sciatica pain relief.

There are exercises such as core stabilization, sciatica nerve stretches, muscle stretches, etc that you can do to improve your sciatic nerve pain.

But remember for best results you want to know what is causing the irritation to the sciatic nerve. HINT HINT, go see a physical therapist.

In the meantime, if  you’re may be feeling some form of sciatica, I put to together some exercises to see if will help– I am a physical therapist, but obviously know nothing of your situation, so proceed at your own risk.

The goals of these exercises is to decrease irritation to the sciatic nerve and possible surrounding muscles. 

None of the exercises are designed to be painful or aggravating of your symptoms so if they do, please listen to your body and stop.

On a side note:  My pregnant ladies out there, this is also very common in my mothers to be population. To learn more about sciatica during pregnancy, check out my blog specifically for my pregnant ladies.


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