Sciatica: Person Asks “Why Does My Back Problem Cause Such Severe Pain Down The Back Of My Leg?”

“If I’ve got back pain — Why am I getting a shooting pain down the back of my leg?”.

This is a very common question and symptom we see at Form Physio and Rehab.

In fact we would be extremely surprised if at least 10 people didn’t walk, (or hobble in with severe pain it causes), into the clinic each week with this very same complaint.

The first response to this pain by most is to go and visit the doctor, pick up some medicine to ease the pain and possibly a few exercises.

For some the response is to simply rest and hope for the pain to subside.

Resting, generally for the lower back is a big “no no”!, and medicine, although it might reduce the pain at first, is unlikely to solve the underlying root cause of this discomfort.

Also do you really want to have to take tablets every single day to simply mask a problem? Let us tell you, this is not a problem that can be swept under the carpet!

There can be a few reasons why someone experiences a shooting/sciatic pain down the back of their leg and it is our job to identify through a thorough assessment what the cause might be.

One of the most common causes we see for this debilitating pain is due to a “slipped disc”.

Most clients we see with this problem have heard of the term, “slipped disc”, however very few understand exactly what it is and why physiotherapy is vital in ensuring a quick recovery.

Let us explain.

What is a slipped disc?

Small fluid filled sacs (disc’s) sit between the bones in your back. We find it’s better to think of them as little jam doughnuts, (little potentially painful jam doughnuts!). Their purpose is to protect the bones in your back as you move about.

As you bend forwards the discs are pinched at the front and the fluid inside the discs goes to the back. For example, Imagine if you squeeze a jam doughnut, the jam inside will move away from where you are squeezing. Now imagine if you are in a job where you are always bending forwards/leaning forwards/picking up objects.

Eventually this repetitive squeezing of the disc will cause the wall of the disc to wear down and similar to if you squeeze a jam doughnut too hard, the fluid will come out. However instead of sticky jammy fingers that can be licked clean, you have a very painful shooting sciatic sensation! As the disc presses on the nerve (sciatic), that travels all the way down the back of your leg.

The problem if you completely rest this is that not only does the disc stay slipped, the muscles that control your lower back become weak, therefore providing less support to the already problematic area.

Physiotherapy is therefore vital and can assist in the recovery of this painful problem.

Common treatment methods we use include mobilising the joints to encourage the disc to move back forwards and off the nerves, massage to loosen off the muscles that become very tight to protect your lower back, as well as invaluable exercise and stretching programs.

All these treatment methods are specific to you, as no two back problems are ever the same and are aimed at getting you back to what you need to and like to be able to do each day!.

Please – Don’t suffer any longer than you have too ;-(

If you are concerned about your back pain that is going down the back of your leg, you can talk to a physical therapist. We are able to assess your back, get to the root cause of your pain, and give you a natural plan to get strong without surgery.


Supapong Juntharin

Supapong (Boss) Juntharin
Head of Education at Form Recovery and Wellness

Khun Supapong received a Degree in Physiotherapy from Rangsit University in Bangkok. Supapong is the Head of Education at Form Recovery and Wellness and works closely with our team to ensure that the quality of our treatment is always at the highest level and that we are always upskilling our skills.

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