Causes, Symptoms and Solutions for Sciatic Pain

Sciatica is a type of pain that spreads along the sciatic nerve’s path and extends from the lower back region following the hips and buttocks to either or both legs. In most cases, this kind of pain affects only one side of the body. 

This pain mostly occurs when the narrowing of the spine compresses the nerve part. Whenever this happens, it results in the affected leg suffering pain and inflammation. In some cases, the affected leg may also become numb. While sciatica is severe, many can recover within a few weeks without needing treatment.

Description of sciatica

Description of sciatica ranges from person to person. People have different ways of describing it. While some feel sharp, jolt, or shooting pain, others may describe the pain as stabbing, intense, burning, or electrifying. At times, sciatica may be consistent, and other times it can come and go.

Furthermore, when the pain is suffered in the leg region, it usually comes with more severity than the lower back. Standing or sitting for an extended time can cause intense sciatica pain. It also happens when you stand up or twist your upper body. It can become worse if there is forced movement, coughing, or sneezing. 

Causes of sciatica

When the sciatic nerve is pinched, sciatica occurs. This usually happens when the herniated disk in the spine pinches the sciatic nerve. It can also be a result of bone overgrowths. At times, there can be nerve compression by a tumour. Certain diseases such as diabetes can also compress the nerve. 

Symptoms of sciatica

This medical condition involves pain radiating from the lower back spine to the buttocks, which later moves down the back of the leg. The chances are high that it will follow a path from the low back to the buttocks whilst spreading to both the calf and back of the thigh. 

Pain caused by this can, at times, be excruciating. Some people feel numbness or a tingle. Some also feel weak in the affected leg or foot and muscles. One of the legs can be painful, while the other can become numb. 

The risk factors

Changes may occur in the spine as people age. These changes include herniated disks and overgrown bones. These factors remain the most common causes of this pain. 

  • Job type: If your job type requires twisting your back or carrying heavy loads, these activities may help influence sciatica. However, no conclusion connects sciatica with these activities.
  • Diabetes: People who suffer from this will have an increased chance of nerve damage which can cause sciatica.
  • Sitting too long: Prolonged sitting for a long time in people can lead to developing sciatica. This generally means people who have a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Obesity: If the stress on the spine increases, the body weight can influence the spinal changes, resulting in sciatica 


While sciatica has different pain descriptions, most people recover quickly from sciatica even without going for treatment. However, nerves can be permanently damaged as a result of sciatica. If you notice any of the following complications, you should quickly talk to a doctor or physiotherapist for immediate attention;

  • Bladder function loss 
  • Inability to feel anything on the affected leg 
  • Weakness in the affected leg 
  • Prevention

Preventing sciatica may not always be possible. However, a few lifestyles can help prevent sciatica, such as the following :

  • The use of good mechanics 
  • Ensure to use the right posture each time you sit
  • Engage in daily exercise

Sciatica is one of the leading causes of pain in people. It isn’t always life-threatening and can heal on its own without medication. If it persists, then you would do well to seek medical support and advice. Click here to find a list of different treatments and services we offer at Reach Physiotherapy.

Gunn IMS Specialist

Antony Causton, our Gunn IMS Specialist, offers successful treatment modalities for sciatica and is the only Sussex-based physiotherapist clinic to offer this treatment on the south coast. IMS successfully treats both acute and chronic conditions that are not possible by any other means. Feel free to please contact our clinic and click here for details and some client testimonials.

“…. Anthony diagnosed my injury, prescribed me a routine of stretches and strength building exercises and also treated me with IMS. Within two weeks the pain has gone and my shoulder feels stronger than ever before. Thank you Antony for enabling me to continue to work, free from pain” – Joe Cave


* Contact Reach Physiotherapy for a list of references used for this blog content.