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My Sciatica is Acting Up!

I am frequently told by my patients at their initial physical therapy visit that "my sciatica is acting up".  This is usually said pointing to any body part - hip, knee, shoulder, or back. Sciatica is also one of the most common diagnosis that we see from doctors as well.  Often times though, the injury or at least the pain is not coming from the sciatica.  What is sciatica? Briefly it is the sciatic nerve being compressed or irritated. This can happen from a disc pressing on it or a muscle spasm around it. By definition it causes pain shooting down the back of the leg. Within two minutes we can pinpoint if it's a sciatica at all, and if so, if that what's causing the majority of the pain. A hamstring strain can cause pain "shooting down" the back of the leg, an ITB Syndrome can cause pain shooting down the side of the leg, and a Piriformis Syndrome or Gluteus Medius Spasm can cause pain moving from the lower back into the back of the hip.  Some of these may have been caused by a bulge in a disc and the sciatic nerve may actually be irritated. Mostly I find "sciatica" to be a Gluteus Medius Spasm, and more often than not, the "Sciatica" is getting a bad rap.

Avi K, PT