You’ve probably heard someone say, or even thought to yourself, “I think I have Sciatica.” This phrase has become common with the increase in low back problems in our culture. So is it True Sciatica or just Sciatic-like symptoms? The answer is that there are many reasons you could be having pain in your back and down your leg. I want to make you aware of a couple reasons that involve your muscles.
First, I want to define what True Sciatica is. Then, I want to explain how you can perform a test to see if you have these related symptoms.
True Sciatica involves pain from the Sciatic nerve being pinched in the lower back (L4-S1). The pain usually affects one side of the leg. The pain travels from your lower back, down the leg, and into the foot. Common causes include spine and disc-related issues. Symptoms include:
- shooting pain
- weakness in the involved leg/foot
Perform this test to check for Sciatica symptoms:
- Sit in a chair
- Straighten the effected leg out in front of you
- Slump your upper back and tuck your chin
- Flex your foot up to point your toes toward you
If you feel an increase in symptoms listed above, this may be a sign of Sciatica. Please see a physician for proper diagnosis.
If the test above was negative, then continue reading. I will list two muscles that, if harboring Trigger Points (TPs), can give you similar symptoms to Sciatica. I will explain how these TPs affect you, walk you through tests to perform, and even give you steps to relieve the pain.
This glute muscle is located deep in the hip area and can develop trigger points. These TPs can cause pain in the buttock area and down the back or side of the leg to the foot (shown in red below).
Sound familiar? If so, follow the steps below to test if you have Sciatica-like symptoms caused by TPs in the gluteus minimus:
If this feels like your primary pain, this could be the cause of your sciatic- like symptoms.
- Get a ball or foam roller
- Lie down on your side with the ball or foam roller under your hip.
- Put pressure on this muscle in the areas where the X’s are shown in the picture.
- Find and hold on the tender spots to see if any refer pain down your leg.
You can release these TPs by holding medium pressure on the area for 20-30 seconds at a time until the referred pain diminishes and you only feel pressure. You can also see a Massage Therapist with Trigger Point Therapy experience to help you.
This is another muscle located deep in the buttock area that rotates the thigh. TPs in this muscle can refer pain in the buttock and down the thigh. However, this muscle can also impinge the Sciatic nerve as it travels under or through the muscle. This impingement is called “Piriformis Syndrome”.
To test to see if this muscle is impinging the Sciatic nerve, do the following:
- Lie on the floor on your back
- Bring your effected knee toward your chest and across your body
- Hold for several seconds
- If you start to feel the primary pain and symptoms, this is a sign of Piriformis Syndrome. Please see a healthcare professional.
If you don’t get symptoms with the above test, then check this muscle for TPs:
- Get a foam roller or tennis ball.
- Sit on the floor leaning one buttock on top of the ball. Put pressure on the areas where the X’s are shown in the picture above.
Important: If you feel nerve-type pain going down your leg, move the ball and see if the pain goes away. You may be pressing directly on that Sciatic nerve.
- Find tender spots to see if any dull-type pain refers down your thigh. If this feels like your primary pain, this could be the cause of your sciatic like symptoms.
Note: If you still have pain symptoms, please see a physician for a proper assessment and diagnosis.
I hope this helped you in your quest to relieve pain. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or make an appointment online. I am always here to help!