A very common condition most often caused by strained muscles in the lower back cause. Other causes include sports injuries, a herniated (bulging) disc, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Sciatica is irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the low back, through the buttocks, and down the back of the leg. This irritation can be the result of pressure on the nerve by a herniated disc. The main symptoms of sciatica are pain and numbness radiating down the leg.

Prevention

  • Practice proper posture. Avoid slouching
  • Perform exercises that strengthen your back and abdominal muscles (core strengthening) to prevent future problems.
  • When lifting, bend your knees and lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Sleep on a supportive mattress. If you routinely wake up with a sore or stiff back, consider making changes to your mattress and/or pillow.

Treatment

Home care   Home Care

  • Stay as active as possible without over-exerting yourself. Contrary to popular belief, those who continue light activity, such as gentle walking, do better than people on bed rest.
  • Place cold packs on painful areas for 15 to 20 minutes every few hours. Some people prefer to use heating pads in a similar way.
  • Avoid positions or activities that worsen your symptoms.
  • Take nonprescription pain reliever, such as Tylenol® and Advil®.

Professional care   Professional Care

Seek immediate medical attention for any of the following:

  • New, severe pain that does not change with movement
  • Pain after trauma or fall
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Pain that does not improve over a few days of home treatment
  • More than brief numbness or weakness of any part of the body
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Unexplained fever