Sciatica is when the sciatic nerve which runs from your hips to your feet is irritated. In sciatica, pain is going down the leg from lower back. This pain go down the back, outside or front of the leg. Onset is often sudden following activities like heavy lifting, though gradual onset may also occur. The pain is often described as shooting.
If you have sciatica your bottom, back of your legs, feet and toes may feel painful (pain may be stubbing, burning or shooting), tingling (like pins and needles), numb, weak. These symptoms may be worse when moving, sneezing or coughing.
Sciatica usually gets better in 4-6 weeks but can sometimes last longer. To help relieve sciatica pain and speed up recovery try the following at home (“home treatment”):
- Start gentle exercise as soon as you can
- Do regular stretches
- Carry on with your normal activities as much as possible
- Ask your pharmacist about painkillers that can help
Do not sit or lie down for long periods – even if moving hurts, moving is not harmful and can help you get better faster
See your doctor if the pain has not improved after trying home treatment for a few weeks and/or pain is getting worse and/or pain is stopping you doing your normal activities. Your doctor may prescribe painkillers that help with nerve pain like sciatica and might also refer you to physiotherapy and psychological support – to help you cope with the pain.
Go to A&E or call an ambulance if you:
- have sciatica on both sides
- have weakness or numbness in both legs that is severe or getting worse
- have numbness around or under your genitals or around your back passage
- find it hard to start peeing, cannot pee or cannot control when you pee – and this is not normal for you
- do not notice when you need to poo or cannot control when you poo – and this is not normal for you