Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet.
The pain of sciatica is usually felt in the buttocks and legs.
Most people find it goes away naturally within a few weeks, although some cases can last for a year or more.
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 your symptoms 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 be a sign of a serious condition called cauda equina syndrome.
Most cases of sciatica pass in around six weeks without the need for treatment.
However, a combination of things you can do at homesuch as taking over-the-counter painkillers, exercising, and using hot or cold packs may helpreduce the symptoms until the condition improves.
Further treatment may be recommended for more persistent cases, such as:
In rare cases surgery may be needed to correct the problem in your spine.
If your mattress is too soft, place a firm board under the mattress. Support your head with a pillow, but make sure your neck isn't forced up at a steep angle.
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.