You can be simply bending over to tie a shoe when suddenly a sharp pain rips down your leg and takes your breath away. Sciatica can be the cause of this.

“Yes, stabbing sciatic pain can come on suddenly, most commonly due to injury,” says Dr. Jeff Langmaid, DC, founder/owner of The Evidence Based Chiropractor, LLC, in Tampa, FLA, a research-based marketing and practice growth company that serves thousands of chiropractors across the globe.

“Many patients will report bending over to tie shoes or pick up a newspaper and feel the pain,” adds Dr. Langmaid.

Other Passive Actions that Can Bring on Sudden Stabbing Pain Due to Sciatic Nerve Irritation

  • Leaning over to put something in or take something out of the dishwasher
  • Bending over to fill the dog bowl with food
  • Bending over to pet the dog
  • Leaning over to shave the lower leg

In fact, any similar motion of trunk/spinal flexion, in which the lower back is bending so that you can reach for something, can induce a sudden stabbing pain — thanks to sciatica.

Yet these are such seemingly very innocuous activities. Imagine what a more taxing movement might do, such as bowling, picking up a toddler, loading groceries into the trunk of a car, and heavier work such as pulling a sofa closer to the edge of a wall or picking up a box of books.

How can a small, light movement trigger intense sciatica pain?

Dr. Langmaid explains, “Often, decades of repetitive micro-trauma can leave a lumbar disc on the verge of herniating.

“Then, a simple, benign motion such as tying your shoes can cause the disc to herniate [bulge out] and put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

“But don’t forget, sciatic pain can come on acutely or build slowly throughout time.”

The sciatic nerve runs the length of the leg. Shutterstock/Nathan Devery

If you’ve been plagued by periodic bouts of sudden stabs of pain down your leg or in your butt due to sciatica — it’s time to revisit the concept of aggressive conservative treatment and management of the condition.

This includes sticking to a physical therapy and stretching regimen that a physiotherapist can prescribe for you.

Jeff Langmaid, DC
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: ©Lorra Garrick