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.
However, it's not clear exactly how effective many of these treatments areat treating sciatica.
In a small number of cases, surgery may be recommended to correct the spinal problem thought to be causing your symptoms.
Sciatica usually gets better in 4 to 6 weeks but can sometimes last longer.
To help relieve your pain and speed up your recovery:
These could be symptoms of a serious back problem that needs to be treated in hospital as soon as possible.
There are a number of things you can do yourself to help reduce troublesome sciatica symptoms.
It's important for you to remain as physically active as possible if you have sciatica.
Simple exercises, such as walking and gentle stretching, can help reduce the severity of your symptoms and strengthen the muscles that support your back.
Aim to do the following exercises every day, along with other activities like swimming or yoga.
While bed rest may provide some temporary pain relief, prolonged bed rest is often considered unnecessary and unhelpful.
If you've had to take time off work because of sciatica, you should aim to return to work as soon as possible.
You can make your own cold compression pack by wrapping a pack of frozen peas in a towel. Hot compression packs are usually available from pharmacies.
You may find it effective to use one type of pack followed by the other.
If you have persistent or troublesome sciatic pain, there are a number of medications that may help.
These medications aren't suitable for everyone, particularly when used in the long term, so it's important to discuss all available options with your GP. Some of these medications can also cause significant side effects in some people.
If the painkilling medications your GP prescribes don't help, you may be referred to a specialist pain clinic for further treatment.
If other methods of pain relief have not worked, your GP may refer you to a specialist for a spinal corticosteroid or local anaesthetic injection.
This delivers strong anti-inflammatoryand painkilling medication directly to the inflamed area around the nerves of your spine.
Spinal injectionsare very effective at releasing the pressure on your sciatic nerve and temporarily reducing your pain for a few months.
In some cases, your GP may recommend a suitable exercise plan for you, or they may refer you to a physiotherapist.
A physiotherapist can teach you a range of exercises that strengthen the muscles that support your back and improve the flexibility of your spine.
They can also teach you how to improve your posture and reduce any future strain on your back.
Some surgical options include:
Many people have a positive result from surgery but, as with all surgical procedures, spinal surgery carries some risks.
Potential complications range from the relatively minor, such as an infection at the operation site, to the more serious, such as permanent damage to the spinal nerves.
Before choosing spinal surgery, your surgeon will discuss the relative risks and benefits with you.
Read about lumbar decompression surgery for more information about what surgery involves.
To reduce the chances of getting sciatica again:
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.