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Worried About Sciatica? Try This Simple Test to See How Bad It Really Is!


DECEMBER 15th, 2023

Having a practice that specializes in all things back, sciatica is most definitely a problem that comes in through the door very often!

There are three sorts of back pain that I see most often in my practice. One is just where the back is very angry and inflamed. It could be picking up some furniture out of the garage the previous weekend or overworking a few muscles at your last yoga session. Either way, it’s just inflamed and usually calms down within a few days.

The next type is scar tissue within the muscles/joints of the back or leg. This can be from an injury, surgery, or even just a prolonged stress over the years (ex, sitting) that tears the soft tissue structures of the back. This is pretty rare for me to see believe it or not.

Hands down the most common sort of back pain is when we get something (disc, cartilage, etc.) that gets trapped in the joint space of the spine and produces pain across the back or even down the legs. Sounds very scary but is extremely easy to treat with the self-treatment approach we have here in the clinic.

With all of that said, the most common form of back pain includes sciatic pain or is on its way to sciatic pain in the future if things continue. So I’m going to cover a very simple test to see how bad your sciatica is or if you are at risk for future sciatica. The test you can use is called the “straight leg test,” and it will require a partner.

First, you find a flat surface, a low bed or floor will do the trick. Next, you straighten your knee and keep it in that straight position. Your partner will lift your leg while holding the ankle and knee. They're going to bring it up as high as possible until it cannot go any further. This will be repeated on both sides.

If you feel no pain or just a normal hamstring stretch, you have a negative test. This means you either have low-level sciatic pain (if you currently experiencing leg pain at rest before testing) or you’re at low risk of sciatica in the future (if you have no resting leg pain before testing).

A positive test that is indicative of higher level sciatica or higher risk would be if you produce back pain or sciatic pain during the test.

Try that out with your husband, wife, kids, next-door neighbor, or just anyone willing and able to lift a leg!

That’s it for it today everyone, remember movement is medicine!

P.S. If you have back or sciatic pain and you’d like me to handle it 100% and fix it as quickly as possible for you, shoot us a call at (804) 493-0002 to schedule a back pain evaluation from me. Talk to you soon!