When the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, it can cause:
The pain can range from being mild to very painful, and may bemade worse by sneezing, coughing or sitting for a long period of time.
While people with sciaticacan also have general back pain, the pain associated with sciatica usually affects the buttocks and legs much more than the back.
See your GP if your symptoms are severe, persistent or getting worse over time.
Your GP can usually confirm a diagnosis of sciatica based on your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment.
A simple test known as the passive straight leg raise test can alsohelp your GP identify whether you have sciatica.
This test involves lying flat on your back with your legs straight, and lifting one leg at a time. If lifting one of your legs causes pain or makes yoursymptoms worse, this usually suggests sciatica.
You should immediately call the emergency number for an ambulance if you experience all of the following:
Although it's rare, these symptoms can bea sign of a serious condition called cauda equina syndrome.
Sciatica is when the sciatic nerve, which runs from your hips to your feet, is irritated. It usually gets better in 4 to 6 weeks but can last longer.
When the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, it can cause pain, numbness, a tingling sensation that radiates from your lower back and travels down one of your legs to your foot and toes, etc.
In the vast majority of cases sciatica is caused by a slipped disc. A slipped disc occurs when one of the discs that sit between the bones of the spine (the vertebrae) is damaged and presses on the nerves.
Treatment for sciatica isn't always necessary, as the condition often improves naturally within around six weeks. If your symptoms are severe or persistent, your GP may recommend self-help measures and treatments such as medication and physiotherapy.
Some simple exercises and stretches you can do at home can help ease pain from sciatica (pain in your buttocks, legs and feet) and improve your strength and flexibility.