Sciatica: More Than Just Back Pain

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April 8, 2023
Tony Ly

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a common condition that can cause debilitating pain in the lower back and legs. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, running from the lower back down to the feet. When this nerve becomes compressed or irritated, it can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the affected area.

Sciatica is more than just back pain

Sciatica is a common condition that affects many people. The condition is characterised by pain in the lower back and legs. The pain can be mild to severe and may worsen with time. Sciatica is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back through the buttocks and down the legs. The condition is often treated with pain medication, physical therapy, and exercise.

The symptoms of sciatica

Sciatica is more than just back pain. Sciatica symptoms can include weakness, tingling, and numbness in the legs. Sciatica can also cause problems with bowel or bladder control. The most common sciatica symptom is pain radiating from the low back and down the leg. This pain can range from mild to severe. Other symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Weakness in the leg
  • Tingling or numbness in the leg
  • Problems with bowel or bladder control

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the condition from worsening.

The causes of sciatica

The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc. When the soft inner core of a disc bulges out and presses on the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the leg. Other causes of sciatica include:

  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal).
  • Degenerative disc disease.
  • Spondylolisthesis (slippage of one vertebra over another).

Pregnancy, tumours, and injury can also cause sciatica. Pregnancy-related sciatica is thought to be caused by the baby's weight putting pressure on the nerves. Tumours that press on the sciatic nerve are usually located in the lower back. Injury to the sciatic nerve can occur during high-impact activities such as car accidents or falls.

The treatments for sciatica

Sciatica is a common problem, and it can be caused by various things, including a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, and Piriformis syndrome. There are several treatment options for sciatica, and the best one depends on the underlying cause of the pain. If a herniated disc is to blame, your doctor may recommend physical therapy or surgery. If your pain is caused by Piriformis syndrome, stretching and massage may be all that's needed to relieve your symptoms. In most cases, sciatica can be treated successfully with conservative measures.


An estimated 4 out of 5 people will experience sciatica, or back pain, at some point in their lives. For many, the pain is temporary and will go away. However, for others, the pain can be chronic and debilitating. The best course of treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the pain. However, there are a few things that people with sciatica can do to find relief. If you are experiencing sciatica, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any serious underlying causes. Once a diagnosis has been made, various treatment options are available. Some people may find relief with over-the-counter medications, while others may need physical therapy or surgery.

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