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Top 3 Exercises for Bulging Disc & “Sciatica” (Sciatic Nerve Pain)

Updated December 31, 2021

If you have a bulging or herniated disc that is putting pressure on a nerve root and causing “sciatica”, there are some simple exercises you can do at home that can have a huge impact on improving your pain level.

In fact, if a disc bulge is causing all your sciatic nerve pain, it’s possible for you to achieve complete pain relief with these exercises (although results to vary from person to person).

That being said, properly determining the source/cause of your sciatic nerve pain is extremely important.

There are generally 3 common causes for sciatic nerve pain (aka “sciatica”, aka pain shooting down the back of your buttocks and leg):

1). A bulging or herniated disc

2). Degenerative changes (stenosis, DJD, DDD)

3). SI joint dysfunction

Let’s look at each cause in a little more detail.

Top 3 Causes of Sciatic Nerve Pain (Sciatica)

Bulging or Herniated Disc: when a disc bulges in the spine, in generally moves backwards towards the spinal nerve roots.  If the bulging disc touches the nerve root(s), this can cause pain along the entire distribution of the nerve.  Since the nerve roots in the lower back pick up sensation down the leg, pressure on these nerves can cause pain all the way down the leg (and tingling as well).

Stenosis: stenosis is a term that simply means narrowing of the spine.  This can be cause by several different “degenerative” processes, such as degenerative disc disease (DDD), degenerative joint disease (DJD) and other types of “wear and tear” that causes thickening of the surrounding ligaments.  Some people are even born with a certain amount of stenosis.  As the spaces around the spine narrow, this can cause pressure on the nerve roots as they travel outside the spine and into the legs.

SI joint dysfunction: the SI joints are where your pelvis connects to your sacrum, which is just below the lowest portion of the spine and off to each side about 2 inches.  People with SI joint pain typically have pain they can touch when they push on the joints, and they often have pain they can touch in their buttocks as well.

So now that we’ve established the common causes of sciatic nerve pain, how do you know if you have a bulging disc that’s causing your pain?

Here’s a simple test you can do in less than 30 seconds to determine if your sciatic nerve pain is a bulging disc:

->> Stand up straight and slowly bend forward like you’re trying to touch your toes.

->>Next, return to standing tall, and then slowly bend backwards.

->>If you experienced increased pain when you went forwards, and you experienced decreased pain when you went backwards, it’s very likely that your pain is caused by a bulging disc.

If this test is positive for you, the video below is just for you! However, if this test is negative (say you have reduced pain going forward and increased pain going backward), the exercises in this video are not for you… in fact, they could even make your pain worse.

If you have any questions about treating lower back pain and sciatica, and you don’t want to tackle it alone… or, if you’ve tried some home remedies without success, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email at 

And if you’d like even more tips and advice on how to eliminate sciatic nerve pain for good, check out my FREE report titled “11 Simple & Effective Ways to Relieve Sciatica” by clicking this link: 

I hope this video helps!

– Luke Gordon, DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy, Owner of Gordon Physical Therapy)

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