Do you have Sciatica? Causes, symptoms, how to get help

An image of a person holding their lower back, where they currently are experiencing sciatica.

Do you suffer from pain in your lower back?

Maybe you’ve always had back pain in one form or another. Little twinges here and there. Tight and sore muscles. Discomfort when lifting and turning. Difficulty performing daily tasks.

But this time – it feels different.

This time you feel it on one side in particular.

There’s a tingling or burning sensation running down your left leg.

If this sounds familiar – it’s possible that you’re suffering from sciatica.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is the name given to damage or irritation of the sciatic nerve.

This nerve starts between your hips at the base of your spine. It travels under your buttocks, through the back of each thigh and all the way down to your feet.

It’s the longest nerve in your body – so it’s not surprising that it’s also one of the most important.

If the base of the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or compressed, it can cause immediate discomfort. This can be felt not only in your back – but all the way down your leg.

As many as 40% of Americans will experience sciatica during their lifetime. And the risk of sciatica increases with age.

For some people, sciatica is only a minor inconvenience. For others, it can make simple tasks very difficult – or even impossible.

What are the causes of sciatica?

Nerves are specialized cells that carry messages from one part of your body to another.

They relay useful information such as sensation and movement.

At the same time, they also convey pain and discomfort.

When pinched or compressed, the sciatic nerve becomes inflamed. This can be felt at the point of compression, as well as all the way down the nerve.

The symptoms of sciatica can be caused by:

If you’re suffering from sciatica, we suggest you seek medical advice from a doctor in your local area. We can help you get connected to the best providers in your area and answer your questions.

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

The symptoms can vary from person to person. It largely depends on the location and severity of the nerve damage.

Here are the most common experiences:

  • Constant pain on one side of the buttocks or leg
  • Discomfort or pain when sitting down, or from staying seated
  • Sharp pain in one buttock or leg when standing up
  • Burning, tingling or numbness running down one particular leg
  • Loss of muscle strength in one leg or foot

It is possible for sciatica to affect both sides of the body – but this is rare. You’ll generally only feel it on one side.

What can I do to relieve the pain?

If you think you might be suffering from Sciatica, your first move should be to seek medical help.

After a correct diagnosis, you’ll better understand your treatment options. These may include medication, heat or ice packs, physical therapy, steroid injections or even surgery (in severe cases).

There are also exercises you can do at your home or office to help reduce the symptoms. The British government has published a list of helpful stretches that can provide temporary relief.

Walking, swimming and yoga can also be very beneficial. You should only perform these activities if your mobility and pain levels allow it.

How can I get help?

If you suffer from sciatica – or believe that you do – there’s an easy way to match with a local pain doctor.

We are PainTheory, and we’re here to help.

We offer a free service which helps people like you find professional relief from back pain.

Schedule a free consult with a care coordinator and get your questions answered. We can help you find relief from local doctors who are experts on relevant treatments.


The information included in this document in no way substitutes for medical advice.

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