Low Back Pain? Could it be Sciatica?

Do you have pain that runs down your leg? Find out what might be causing it, and do this quick test to determine if you actually have sciatica.


Causes of Sciatica

Many people suffer from low back pain and sciatica. Most of us know exactly what low back pain is, but aren’t so sure about sciatica.

Sciatica is a generic term that describes pain, numbness and tingling in the groin or down the leg.  This referred pain, numbness and tingling in your leg can be coming from a multitude of sources–but there are three primary causes.

  1. Arthritis, stenosis, or degenerative disc disease (DDD):  All three of the above-mentioned terms describe arthritic changes that occur in the spine.  As our body adapts to stress and gravity throughout its lifetime, a natural response of our body is to increase the weight-bearing surface of any joint, which results in arthritis.  As the arthritis in the spine continues to progress, it can actually cause compression of a nerve, which will then cause pain, numbness or tingling in the groin or down the leg. Some common characteristics of people suffering from stenosis include 50 years of age or older, pain when standing straight that is relieved when you sit for a moment or bend forward.
  2. Herniated disc:  The spine is designed with 33 vertebrae (7 in the neck, 12 in the upper and mid back, 5 in the low back and 9 non-movable in the lowest portion of the back and tailbone).  In the portion of the spine that moves, there is a disc at each level that serves as a shock absorber.  The disc can become injured and herniate, which means that the outer fibers of the disc tear and the center of the disc pushes a portion of the disc beyond its normal limit and can compress a spinal nerve.  The herniated disc will cause significant pain in the low back, but the compression of the nerve will cause a wide range of painful and tingling symptoms that run down the leg.  Common characteristics of people suffering from herniated disc include 45 years of age and younger, pain bending forward, pain when lifting, pain when sneezing.
  3. Sacroiliac joint (SI joint) disorder:  The SI joint describes the bony articulation of the lowest portion of the spine and the two hip bones. This is a very complex joint that is responsible for transferring forces from the ground up to the trunk and arms as well as the arms back to the ground.  Common characteristics of people suffering from sacroiliac joint disorders include pain in the low back that radiates into the groin or down the most lateral aspect of the leg, not below the knee. This injury is most common in women but can be seen in men, especially those who participate in contact sports or heavy lifting.

A quick and reliable way to determine if you have sciatica is to perform a seated leg extension test.


Test #1:  Seated Leg Extension Test

  • Sit straight up in a hard bottom chair and slowly straighten the leg in which you have pain, numbness or tingling.

Causes of Sciatica

If this reproduces the symptoms you regularly experience, you may likely have sciatica.

If test #1 did not cause any symptoms, you may perform the following variation.


Test #2

  • Sit straight in a hard bottom chair, drop your chin to your chest as if you are looking at the ground, and once again slowly straighten the leg in which you have pain, numbness or tingling.

Symptoms of Sciatica

If this test produced pain, numbness or tingling in your leg, you may likely have sciatica.


Free Screening

If you would like to determine which of the three above-mentioned common causes of sciatica you may have, Dynamic Physical Therapy will be offering 10 free screenings at each of our Morgantown locations September 28 through October 2.

These screenings will fill up quickly, so I encourage you to call right now!  Evening time slots are very limited, so don’t wait.

  • Westover:  304-225-5222
  • Morgantown:  304-598-2212
  • Sabraton:  304-225-0910

Thanks for reading,

Lincoln Kinkade

By | 2017-05-05T10:52:27-04:00 October 18th, 2016|Back & Sciatica Pain|0 Comments