Sciatica is pain radiating along the sciatic nerve the longest nerve in your body running from your back to your feet. Most patients who experience sciatica have the common sign of lower back pain with pain radiating down their leg. Usually only one side is affected. This pain occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched or compressed usually by a herniated disc or spasms. It is caused by the compression or pinching of the sciatic nerve.
Symptoms include pain, fatigue, numbness, tingling, spasms and pain with movement. The pain can vary widely, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating pain. Sometimes it can feel like a jolt or electric shock. It can be worse when you cough or sneeze, and prolonged sitting can aggravate symptoms. Usually only one side of your body is affected. Although the pain can be severe, mild sciatica usually goes away in a few days to weeks with self-treatment. When these symptoms occur take anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and alternate heat and ice on your lower back, apply each for several minutes a few times a day. Short walks and stretching exercises for your lower back can also help. Sometimes you may need a muscle relaxer. Call your doctor if your symptoms persist or worsen.
Get immediate care if:
- You have sudden severe pain in your lower back or leg with numbness or weakness.
- The pain follows an injury.
- Or if you have problems with your bowel or bladder when the pain comes.
Most sciatic pain can be prevented with regular exercise keeping your body core (torso) strong, keeping a good posture, and good body mechanics such as lifting with your legs instead of your back. If you think you have sciatica come to RGUC for further evaluation and treatment.