What is Sciatica?


The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. Obstructions, like a disc prolapse, can put pressure on your sciatic nerve, causing pain. This is called Sciatica.

The pain of sciatica is naturally felt from the low back to behind the thigh and radiating down to below the knee.

Mild cases of sciatica can be treated conservatively. If your symptoms persist or increase see a doctor.

If conservative treatments are not successful you may be referred to a spinal consultant. They may order x-rays or an MRI scan. Based on the results of these procedures your consultant may recommend a further course of treatment.

What causes sciatica?

The common cause of sciatica is a bulging or ruptured disc (herniated disc) in the spine that is pressing on the sciatic nerve. Other condition to the spine can also cause sciatica, they are:

  • Narrowing of the spinal canal (Spinal stenosis)
  • Bone spurs form along the spine joints which is called Arthritis
  • Nerve root compression (pinched nerve) which caused by a back injury
  • Pregnancy
  • Tumours

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

Symptoms of sciatica include pain at the lower back or buttock area radiating down to the thigh, leg and foot. You may also feel weakness, tingling sensation or numbness in the leg.

  • Sitting or standing for a long time may worsen the symptoms
  • Walking or lying down can help to reduce the symptoms

What are the complications of sciatica?

Because sciatica is caused by pressure on a nerve in your spine, complications may develop if the pressure is not relieved. Possible complications of unrelieved nerve compression include:

Increased pain
A slipped or herniated disc
Loss of feeling or weakness in your affected leg
Loss of bowel or bladder function
Permanent nerve damage

When should I see a Sciatica Specialist?

Call your spine specialist if:

Your pain worsens
You lose feeling in your affected leg, or notice weakness in your leg
You develop problems with your bowels or bladder
Your pain returns after successful treatment of your sciatica

Key points about sciatica

Sciatica most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
It is pain that starts along your sciatic nerve and spreads down your buttock and the back of 1 thigh.
It is usually caused by a herniated (or bulging) disk in your spine that presses on your sciatic nerve.

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