Sciatica - Is it Piriformis Syndrome or a Herniated Disc?

Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Sciatica symptoms can be caused by piriformis syndrome or a herniated disc. Here are some easy ways to help narrow it down, and some treatments for each.

It’s important to know which one is causing the sciatica so you can treat it appropriately.

Piriformis syndrome is when the sciatic nerve is compressed by the piriformis muscle. Since the sciatic nerve runs down behind the leg and under the piriformis, if it is tight and pushing on the nerve, it can cause pain, weakness, numbness and tingling. An easy way to test if your piriformis is tight, is to lie on your stomach with your feet bent up to the ceiling. Let them drop down to the side. If one doesn’t go as far and feels tight, it could be piriformis syndrome.

Some piriformis stretches including the figure 4 and the knee to opposite shoulder should help loosen up the muscle and reduce symptoms.

A herniated disc can compress the sciatic nerve at the spine. To test this, you can lie on your stomach and prop up on your elbows. This might cause pain in the low back, and in the beginning, it might reproduce symptoms, causing pain, weakness, numbness and tingling. Though you might feel pain at first, one of the treatments is to hold this position, and the symptoms should start to go away.

Besides prone props, you can do prone press ups, and a cat/dog stretch in quadruped to help relieve the symptoms.

Related Videos:

Sciatica Stretches & Exercises

Herniated Disc Stretches & Exercises


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