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Sciatica

Sciatica is a type of pain caused by an irritated nerve. It's felt from your bottom down to your feet and toes.

Symptoms of sciatica include shooting pain in your bottom and the backs of your legs.

Treatment for sciatica includes exercise, stretches and painkillers.

Sciatica is due to something pressing or rubbing on the sciatic nerve. The most common cause is a slipped disc in your spine.

Read more on the NHS website.

Symptoms of sciatica include shooting pain in your bottom and the backs of your legs.

Check if you have sciatica

If you have sciatica, your:

may feel:

Your symptoms may be worse when moving, sneezing or coughing.

You may also have back pain, but this is not usually as bad as the pain in your bottom, legs or feet.

You probably do not have sciatica if you only have back pain.

Read more on the NHS website.

Treatment for sciatica includes exercise, stretches and painkillers.

Self-care

Sciatica usually gets better in 4 to 6 weeks but can sometimes last longer.

To help relieve your pain and speed up your recovery:


Do

  • carry on with your normal activities as much as possible
  • regular back stretches
  • start gentle exercise as soon as you can – anything that gets you moving can help
  • hold heat packs to the painful areas – you can buy these from pharmacies
  • ask your pharmacist about painkillers that can help – paracetamol on its own is unlikely to relieve your pain

Don't

  • do not sit or lie down for long periods – even if moving hurts, it's not harmful and can help you get better faster
  • do not use hot water bottles to ease the pain – you could scald yourself if your skin is numb

Medical treatments

If you have sciatica, your GP may:

  • suggest exercises and stretches
  • prescribe painkillers that help with nerve pain like sciatica

They might also refer you for:

  • physiotherapy – including exercise advice and techniques like massage (manual therapy)
  • psychological support – to help you cope with the pain

Physiotherapy from the NHS may not be available everywhere and waiting times can be long. You can also get it privately.

Read more on the NHS website.

Sciatica is due to something pressing or rubbing on the sciatic nerve. The most common cause is a slipped disc in your spine.

Read more on the NHS website.