Sciatica results from pain associated with the sciatic nerve, which branches from the lower back, down the legs, and to the feet. It is characterized by shooting pain, discomfort, burning sensations, tingling sensations, numbness, weakness, or decreased mobility in the lower back, buttocks, hips, leg, or foot. Sciatic pain can become severe, and it can interfere with everyday activities and even necessary bodily functions. This condition is caused by the compression or irritation of the nerve root in the lumbar portion of the spine, which can occur due to many factors including injury, age, lifestyle, disc herniation, vertebrae slips, spinal narrowing, pregnancy, diabetes, and muscle spasms.
Typically, the pain specialist will recommend lifestyle changes (sometimes including physical therapy) to relieve sciatic pain. This may include physical activity, limiting repetitive motions that cause strain, limiting prolonged periods of sitting, stretching exercises, and posture correction. The specialist may also recommend medication like over-the-counter pain relievers, narcotics, muscle relaxants, anti-seizure medications, and even some kinds of antidepressants. In the most severe cases, doctors may recommend surgery to correct an anatomical cause of debilitating sciatic pain.