This is what a compressed sciatic nerve feels like

“It hurts in my leg, when I walk, but the pain eases when I sit down!”

This is one of the classical signs of a compressed (pinched) sciatic nerve.


The sciatic nerve has it origin in the lower part of the lumbar spine.
The nerve is as thick as a finger, and it runs through the buttock, down the thigh all the way to the foot. The term “sciatic pain”, describes the condition of pain radiating from the lumbar spine, through the buttock and into the thigh and leg. There are several possible causes of sciatic pain. Among other causes, sciatic pain can be caused by a herniated disc, or spinal stenosis, causing a lack of space around the nerve, leading to pain.


The sciatic nerve has its origin in cavities in the lumbar spine. These cavities are being compressed when you walk, and decompressed when you sit down. Normally the cavities leave sufficient space for the sciatic nerve to remain comfortable, even when you are going for a walk. However, if one of your lumbar discs herniate, they may compress the sciatic nerve. Going for a walk will compress the nerve and the herniated disc, and your leg will start hurting. In many instances, the leg pain will ease when sit down, decompressing the cavities and the nerve. The same happens for people suffering from spinal stenosis, a degenerative condition leading to a reduction of the cavities in the lumbar spine. In some cases the leg pain can be relieved with exercises.


There are simple exercises decompressing the cavities in the lumbar spine. Below you will find an example of these exercises. The full instructional videos are accessible, in our mobile phone application. The exercises are intended to relieve the pain. Should these exercises not be able to relieve your sciatic pain, there are more exercises available in our intelligent mobile phone application, Pocket Spine Doc. Download our app from Google Play or iOS App Store



The symptoms of a compressed sciatic nerve, is pain or pins and needles in the leg and foot. The sciatic nerve can become compressed because of a herniated lumbar disc, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis and other conditions. These conditions are typically treated with advice, exercises and pain medication. The exercises, aiming to relieve the pain, are not the exact same for each condition. Therefore an analysis of the patients condition, is used to tailor an exercise programme.  This analysis is built into our intelligent mobile phone application, Pocket Spine Doc. The app can be downloaded for free from Google Play or iOS App Store. Taking the screening test is free too. If the app is able to identify relevant pain relieving exercises, you will be offered to buy access to high quality videos, with instruction for performing the exercises properly.


How to get rid of sciatic pain – read here.



Morten Zebitz Steiness, MD, Head of Spine Section, Aalborg University Hospital, Denmark.

Dr. Steiness has been working in neurosurgery since 2004 and since 2014 as chief of spine surgery at Department of Neurosurgery, Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark.

Martin Melbye, PT Dip MDT, Aalborg Spine Clinic, Denmark.

Martin Melbye has worked with treatment and rehabilitation of spinal conditions since he graduated as a physical therapist in 1999. He now runs his own spine clinic.

Doctor Morten Zebitz and Martin Melbye, are involved in developing national treatment guidelines for spinal  radiculopathy with the Danish National Board of Health.