Sciatica is a term used to describe a condition where people experience pain in their back and leg. It refers to pain that travels along the sciatic nerve. This nerve comes from your back; it starts in your lower spine and travels through your buttock/hip region, back of your leg to your foot. It can be in just the upper part of your leg or all the way to your foot and toes. There are several different causes of sciatica. Generally, sciatica improves over time, either on its own or with treatment.
Sciatica is caused by a variety of things, including spinal injury or trauma, bone spurs or other growths, narrowing of the spinal canal (which can be because of arthritis or degenerative change to the bone/vertebra or disc) or tight/spasmed muscles in the buttock. Risk factors for sciatica include age related changes to your spine (like arthritis), being overweight, occupations or hobbies where you twist or pick up heavy loads or work repetitively, sitting for long periods of time without changing your position.
People who experience sciatica report symptoms that may include pain, tingling and or numbness in their back and leg. It is can be felt as a nerve pain from the back/buttock region down the back of the leg. It is often worse when sitting, coughing, and lifting. It may also feel pins and needles, numbness or weakness in your leg.
It will often settle with time however it is advisable to see your health care professional to assist with both correct diagnosis and care, to enable to you recover to the best of your capacity. This is especially important if you have had trouble with controlling your bladder/bowel or other muscle weakness since the sciatica started. Treatment for sciatica is varied and can depend on your symptoms, the cause and the severity of the sciatica. Treatment options include review with medical and allied health practitioners, medication, lifestyle changes, exercise options for strength and mobility for your back, rest, and in some cases a spinal injection or surgery. Staying active is an important part of managing sciatica but you may need some help / advice on the best way to do this.