Sciatica is a term used to describe symptoms of back pain that originate from compression of the sciatic nerve in your back. These symptoms would be felt in the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet.

This term, sciatica, can be a bit confusing to some and is often misunderstood. Sciatica is not a diagnosis; it is a set of symptoms caused by an irritated or compressed sciatic nerve. So you would not treat sciatica, you would treat the underlying cause for your sciatic pain whatever it may be.

Symptoms of Sciatica

Sciatica symptoms may be mild or they may be severe, but they will always be located in a certain area of the body; your lower back, buttocks, and legs. This is because your sciatic nerve, the longest and largest nerve in the body, runs from the lower back, buttock, and down each of your legs.

Sciatica symptoms include the following:

  • Pain that starts at the lower back and may radiate down into the buttocks and legs
  • Pain that feels like a electric shock, jolt or a sharp burning pain
  • Pain that worsens if you were to sit for too long or stand for too long
  • Pain that worsens if you sneeze, cough or laugh
  • Pain that worsens if you bend forward at the waist
  • You may have numbness or muscle weakness in your legs or feet, it is possible to have pain in one leg and numbness and weakness in the other.
  • You may also have tingling in the feet and toes
  • It is also possible in very severe cases of Sciatica to lose control of your bowel functions. These symptoms are a sign of Cauda Equina Syndrome a very rare but very serious condition that would require immediate medical intervention

Causes of Sciatica

The most common causes of Sciatica are:

  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spinal Tumors (kyphosis definition)
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated discs
  • Trauma or injury to the back
  • Piriformis Syndrome

Treatment Options for Sciatica

Depending on if your symptoms are very mild and what the underlying cause for your sciatic pain is, it may be possible to take a wait and see approach to treatment. If by resting and modifying your activities you can lessen your pain this may be the only thing you need to do.

If your pain is not going away and you need sciatica pain relief to be able to function normally there are other things you can do to help speed up the healing process. Early stage treatment options may include: exercise and stretching, over the counter medications, heat or cold therapy, massage therapy, physical therapy, water aerobics, acupuncture, or even Yoga or Pilates.

Of course before starting any sort of therapy for your back pain you should always speak to your doctor first to get an accurate diagnosis, so that you do not further injure yourself back in any way.