Why do you get leg pain when you sit or drive?

Nov10th 2020

At Solutions Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, we often see patients who have buttock or thigh pain when they sit in a chair, drive in car, and sometimes when they bend 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, the resulting pain, tingling and numbness affect your back, buttocks, groin, and legs. Often, it will be one side only.

Several underlying causes can result in this 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. The nerves that provide sensation for you buttock, thigh, and legs run nearby. When the disc gets irritated, it can cause pain in these areas.  

Why is sciatica happening to you?

This injury usually happens when the back is flexed for a long period of time (like when sitting at a computer or driving), when flexed repeatedly (like when doing weeding or gardening), or when flexed under heavy loads (like lifting something heavy with a rounded back).

How is sciatica treated?

Often, a key component of recovery from sciatica is dependent on avoiding the positions or movements that cause pain until the area heals.  The speed of healing can often be helped with physical therapy.


No matter what the cause, a physical therapy program can help relieve your sciatic 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.

If you’re in pain, call us at 703-299-3111 to schedule an evaluation with one of our physical therapists.

Contact Solutions Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine today to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. We are looking forward to helping you!

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