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Back Pain: Sciatica the one thing that makes it worse

Most of us have heard of sciatica and know that it is literally a pain in the buttocks that radiates down the back of the leg.  Sciatica is nerve pain and it can be very painful varying from burning to sharp and even tingling and numbness at times.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve covered quite a lot of different things surrounding back-pain but we have not covered sciatica. We’ve looked at why people get back pain when they do crunches and if there’s something they’re doing wrong, we’ve looked at some tips that can help to alleviate back pain while driving, especially if you have to drive a while to and from work every day, 5 daily habits that can help to reduce stiffness, why you need to drink more water to help relieve your back pain and last week we looked at how you can get the housework done without making your back pain worse.  Today I want to talk about sciatica and what makes it worse and what you can do about it.

These are all questions I get asked on a regular basis in the clinic, so I want to answer them here to try and help more people out who might be going through the same thing and may not be aware of the help that’s available. This week, I wanted to look into sciatica in a little bit more detail, as it’s something that isn’t always covered when we talk about back-pain. Sometimes it happens. You’re going about your day nicely, you feel great and don’t think twice about any ‘health problems’ because they’re way off in the future anyway, but then all of a sudden you feel a twinge in your lower back, and immediately you know something’s not right…

Maybe you even begin to kid yourself into thinking that it’s nothing, that after a good night’s sleep it will go away on it’s own. But the thing is when lower back pain strikes, (and if you don’t do anything about it quick), it can leave you suffering in pain for much longer than you should ever have to. Which is exactly what happened to one of my patients, Joy, last week… Joy came in to see me in a great deal of back-pain so bad that she couldn’t even get out of bed by herself in the morning, (not without struggling for 20 minutes anyway!). Here’s what happened…

Two months ago, Joy was simply bending down to fold her laundry and put it away when all of a sudden ‘PING!’ Something in her back went. And like more people who come to see me with low back pain, she brushed it off hoping she’d wake up the next day as if it never even happened. But the following day, her pain was still there. Joy’s back was still bad, but she decided to leave it a little longer as she didn’t want to bother her doctor and thought if she just rested for a few more days, the pain would ease off. But those days turned into weeks, and her back pain grew worse and worse. The problem was, all of the sitting and resting she was doing to make it ‘better’ was adding pressure to her back causing a shooting pain to run down her leg, which meant very little to no walking, and even time off work…

Also known as Sciatica. Sciatica is when a disc at the base of your spine is put under too much pressure and it irritates a nerve that runs down your leg, often causing numbness and even pins and needles as well as pain. The pain from sciatica is often so excruciating it makes it almost impossible to get out of the house, drive to the store and even sleep comfortably – and nearly always gets worse when you sit. To put it simply – it’s a painful and life-limiting condition that can happen as a result of not getting your back-pain seen to as soon as pain strikes. But there are thing you can do, such as specific exercises to help you get back to feeling healthy and on your feet again, without worrying that your back is going to put you out.

Here’s Three Tips:

1. Avoid sitting for any longer than is absolutely necessary.

2. As an exercise – stand up, put your hands on your bum and lean back – hold for 10 seconds. It will be painful, but you’re helping it in the long run.

3. When the pain is bad – go to bed and lie flat – avoid the temptation to curl up in the fetal position… this only makes it worse in the long run, even though it feels nice at the time.And there you have it. Try out these three little things if you’re suffering from sciatica. Make sure that if you have back pain, you see someone about it as soon as possible, so it doesn’t turn into sciatica.

If you have any specific questions about sciatica be sure to email us at  You can also request a free back pain tips report by clicking HERE.


Jennifer Penrose

Penrose Physical Therapy

"Leading Experts Helping People Become More Active and Mobile, Reduce Stress and Achieve Longevity… So They Can Enjoy Great Health For Years to Come!"

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