Sciatica is a term that describes pain relating to the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back (lumbar) to your feet. The pain is felt in the lower body, generally within the lower back and hips, but often can travel as far down as the knees. The pain can increase when weight is placed or bared down on the affected side. 

Injury to the sciatic nerve itself is uncommon, and there are many reasons for this sciatic pain; luckily, it is easy to identify and is treatable. 

How do I know if I have Sciatica?

Typically sciatica only affects one side of your body. 

Sciatica symptoms include – 

  • Numbness around the affected area, including the leg and foot 
  • Tingling sensation or pins and needles 
  • Pain when leaning into the affected side 
  • Pain worsens when sneezing or coughing 

The severity of pain differs from case to case. Some people describe a burning sensation, and others get quick blasts of pain like an electric shock or stabbing sensation. However, all relate to the same area, making sciatica easy to diagnose. 

Why you are experiencing sciatica can be more challenging to diagnose, lifestyle and similar factors have to be taken into account, such as – 

  • Injury

Have you sustained an injury that may cause sciatica? Anything from a fall to a car crash can cause spinal trauma, irritating the sciatic nerve.

  • Obesity 

Carrying around extra weight can lead to compression of the sciatic nerve. 

  • Bad posture 

Slouching and weight-bearing on one hip can also compress the sciatica nerve, especially when exercising. 

  • Age

Wear and tear that comes with age can be a risk factor for lower back problems, including sciatica. 

  • Diabetes

Diabetes increases your chance of nerve damage, which will increase your chance of sciatica.

  • Spinal Stenosis

A narrowing of the part of the spine your nerve passes through. 

  • Slipped disc

A slipped disc is caused when the soft tissue between the bones slips out and can then compress on the sciatic nerve. 

  • Spondylolisthesis 

Spondylolisthesis is caused when a bone in your spine slips out and can then compress on the sciatic nerve. 

Other more severe causes of sciatica can include nerve and spinal tumours.

Although sciatica is rarely a sign of a severe problem, it is important to know when to seek emergency medical attention. 

Be sure to call 111 or visit your local A&E if – 

  • The pain is on both sides. 
  • You notice a severe change in your bladder or bowel movements. 
  • Numbness around your bottom. 
  • Severe weakness. 

Get in touch today if you wish to know more about sciatica or simply wish for further advice and help with treatment and preventive exercises.