Sciatica – What to Do?

Sciatica consists of pain and numbness due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve.The sciatic nerve branches through the buttocks down the back of each leg to the ankle and foot.


The most common cause of sciatica is a bulging or ruptured disc(herniated disc) in the spinal canal that compresses the sciaticnerve. Yet, sciatica is a symptom of other disorders of the spine,such as narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis), bone spurs (small bony growths that form along joints) caused byarthritis – (inflammation of the joints), or nerve root compression(pinched nerve) caused by injury. In rare cases, sciatica can be caused by disease which affects the spine, such as tumors or pregnancy.


-pain that starts in the back or buttocks and moves downward tothe thigh, and can descend to the foot

-low-power, tingling or numbness may occur in the leg

-position or sit upright for a long time and spinal flexionmovements (exercises such as lifting the knees to chest) may worsen symptoms

-walking, supine, extension movements of the spine may control symptoms.


In many cases, sciatica will improve and will go away gradually.Initial treatment usually focuses on medicines and exercises to relieve pain.

-putting an ice pack in the middle lumbar (lower back portion)

-Avoiding sitting (unless it is more comfortable than standing)

-Alternating lying down with short walks, walking distance toincrease as pain allowsnonsteroidiene-use anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) likeibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).

Alternative treatments for sciatica, nerve irritation causes depend.If symptoms do not improve, the family doctor may recommend:

-or even surgery in severe cases

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