Skip to main content

How to Deal with Sciatica

Learn what sciatica is and how to treat it from physical therapist Eric Sampson in this Howcast video.


Sciatica by definition is going to be a condition where you have either irritation or compression to any of the five nerve roots coming off the spine that make up the sciatic nerve, or compression or irritation to the actual sciatic nerve. So it can be compressed or irritated in a few different places running from your spine, and then as it moves down into your leg and towards your buttock, those are the places where it can be compressed or irritated.

The signs and the symptoms of sciatica or sciatic neuritis include pain, pins and needles, numbness, and weakness, weakness being, in a worst case scenario, that usually means that the pressure on that tissue has been either sustained for a long period of time, or is a traumatic increase in pressure on that tissue. But the bigger symptoms are your pain and your suffering, pins and needles and numbness are usually felt in the back and more commonly in the buttock, the back of the thigh, or in the back of the lower leg.

In fact if it's below the knee, and pain is in the calf area or numbness in the calf or foot, it's likely to be a more severe case, but it's still treatable. The higher up in the leg the symptoms are seems to be a better prognosis or a better chance of recovering faster, but those are the signs and your symptoms. The important thing with sciatica is to try to figure out where is it being compressed or irritated or pinched, it's hard to know.

We know where it travels, but where is it being compressed or pinched, and usually a skilled clinician can try to figure this out. For instance, if the butt is what's hurting the patient quite a bit, and they've been diagnosed with sciatica, or they think they have sciatica, the patient might begin stretching that hip and butt area, but unfortunately if it's being compressed or pinched higher up into the back area, it's not going to help them, it's only going to maybe make it worse because you're putting a lot of pressure on your back by trying to stretch out your butt. So it's not so obvious in terms of what to do. You do need to see a specialist usually in these cases, but it is very treatable, and it's a very common problem.

Popular Categories