Sciatica (disorder), Sciatica neuralgia, Neuralgia-neuritis of sciatic nerve, Sciatic neuralgia,

Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet.

The pain of sciatica is usually felt in the buttocks and legs.

Most people find it goes away naturally within a few weeks, although some cases can last for a year or more.

When to seek medical advice

See your GP if your symptoms are severe, persistent or getting worse over time.

Your GP can usually confirm a diagnosis of sciatica based on your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment.

A simple test known as the passive straight leg raise test can alsohelp your GP identify whether you have sciatica.

This test involves lying flat on your back with your legs straight, and lifting one leg at a time. If lifting one of your legs causes pain or makes your symptoms worse, this usually suggests sciatica.

You should immediately call the emergency number for an ambulance if you experience all of the following:

  • tingling or numbness between your legs and around your buttocks
  • recent loss of bladder or bowel control, or both
  • sciatica in both of your legs

Although it's rare, these symptoms can be a sign of a serious condition called cauda equina syndrome.

Treating sciatica

Most cases of sciatica pass in around six weeks without the need for treatment.

However, a combination of things you can do at homesuch as taking over-the-counter painkillers, exercising, and using hot or cold packs may helpreduce the symptoms until the condition improves.

Further treatment may be recommended for more persistent cases, such as:

  • following a structured exercise programme under the supervision of a physiotherapist
  • having injections of anti-inflammatory and painkilling medication into your spine
  • taking stronger painkiller tablets

In rare cases surgery may be needed to correct the problem in your spine.

If your mattress is too soft, place a firm board under the mattress. Support your head with a pillow, but make sure your neck isn't forced up at a steep angle.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 23 Sep 2018