At Solutions Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, we often see patients who have buttock or thigh pain with sitting in a chair, driving a car, and sometimes bending to pick things up. This pain can be incredibly frustrating. But exactly why are you hurting? If you have these symptoms, you could have sciatica:
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a catch-all phrase for radiating leg symptoms that come from the lower back. When nerves in your lower back become pinched or compressed, they can get irritated and inflamed. As a result, tingling and numbness can occur in your back, buttock, groin, and leg. Often, it will be one side only.
There can be several causes of nerve compression in your lower back. In people who have pain with sitting, driving, and bending forward, it is likely being caused by pressure from an irritated lumbar disc. The lumbar disc is a part of your spine that provides a cushion between spinal segments. In between spinal segments, the nerves that provide sensation for you buttock, thigh, and legs run nearby. When the disc gets injured, it can bulge out and get close the nerves. As a result, the nerves can get irritated too, causing pain in the buttock, thigh, or leg.
Why is this happening to you?
This injury usually happens when the back is flexed for a long period of time We commonly see this when people have spent a long time sitting at a computer or driving. It can also happen when you flex your back repeatedly (like when doing weeding or gardening), or when flexed under heavy loads (like lifting something heavy with a rounded back).
How is this treated?
Often, a key component of recovery from sciatica involves avoiding the positions or movements that cause pain. As the area heals, those movements can usually be resumed. The speed of healing can often be helped with physical therapy.
How Physical Therapy Can Help
No matter what the cause, a physical therapy program can help relieve your thigh pain. Your physical therapist will evaluate you and create an individualized program to meet your specific needs.
Manual Physical Therapy – Our physical therapists might use several hands-on techniques to reduce your pain. This could include massage techniques, or trigger point dry needling.
Strengthening exercises – Our physical therapists can select specific strengthening exercises that will target weak muscles that are contributing to your sciatica.
Stretching exercises– Our physical therapists may teach you specific stretches that can help relieve your sciatica.
Return to sport/exercise planning– Our physical therapists can help you modify your exercise routine to allow you to get to your goals without re-injury.
Physical therapy treatment may be able to help you remain pain-free and as active as possible. A physical therapist can create a customized program to treat your particular condition.