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Ask the PT – Sciatica

I have shooting pain down one side of my leg, starting at my buttocks and going down to my lower leg. It bothers me at some times more than others. What can I do to treat this condition?

The condition that you are describing is Sciatica, which is pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg caused by pressure or injury to the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is a condition in which a herniated or ruptured disc presses on the sciatic nerve, the large nerve that extends down the spinal column to its exit point in the pelvis and carries nerve fibers to the leg. This compression causes shock-like or burning low back pain combined with pain through the buttocks and down one leg to below the knee, occasionally reaching the foot. In the most extreme cases, when the nerve is pinched between the disc and an adjacent bone, the symptoms involve not pain but numbness and some loss of motor control over the leg due to interruption of nerve signaling. The condition may also be caused by a motor vehicle accident, cyst, or degeneration of the sciatic nerve root. (Source:http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/backpain/detail_backpain.htm)

It is important to work on stabilization of the pelvis and increasing room in hip and thoracic area, so as not to put pressure on the lower spine. Also, when exercising, you must disassociate movement of the hip from movement of the spine. Hip disassociation means moving the hip or legs without changing the position of the pelvis or spine. Pilates is an excellent way to strengthen pelvic function and stability.

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