When you have pain in your back/hip and it is shooting down your leg, you may have sciatica. Sciatica is typically caused by a tight muscle or bulging disc pressing on the sciatic nerve , leading to weakness and pain, tingling, or other abnormal sensations along the length of the sciatic nerve, which extends down the leg.
If one or more of these is true, your problem is “all the nerve.”
1) Your foot feels weak when you flex it.
2) You have to sprint to the bathroom. (Rare but can be caused by a disc pressing on the nerve.)
3) Pain is worse when you press into the middle of your buttocks with a tennis ball or fist. (This indicates that the piriformis muscle is in spasm or contracture and pressing on the nerve.) Contrast this with discomfort and tension in the low back muscle – the quadratus lumborum (QL). This causes local pain and refers to the hip but not down the leg, and the QL does not press on the sciatic nerve.
Massage, chiropractic care, and an ongoing movement program can all help with recovery.
(Thanks to Prevention Magazine, March 2016 for the inspiration and much of the information in this article.)