Understanding Sciatica


Sciatica is a relatively common lower back condition that occurs when a sciatic nerve is compressed. The sciatic nerves branch out from your lower back and travel down to your thighs and can be compressed by a herniated or slipped disc. The condition tends to occur suddenly and can go as quickly as it came or take months of treatment to resolve. Those who are obese, live a sedentary lifestyle or have a job that requires lots of twisting or carrying heavy items are at an increased risk of developing a slipped disc and therefore sciatica. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for sciatica.


Sciatica causes pain to radiate along the nerve that travels down through your hips to your legs. As only one nerve tends to become compressed by a slipped disc, sciatic pain may only affect one side of the body, but the pain can be severe and range from a burning sensation to a sharp, piercing sensation. Prolonged sitting tends to make the pain worse, and alongside pain, you may experience muscle weakness or tingling in the affected leg.

Diagnosis And Treatment Approach

Your GP will diagnose sciatica by taking details of your symptoms and conducting a physical exam to check your reflexes and muscle strength. This may involve you being asked to squat, walk on your toes or stand on one leg. When your pain is severe, your GP may refer you for diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI scan, which will show the exact location and extent of disc herniation and nerve compression and show whether there's any damage to the surrounding tissue.

Treatment for sciatica is generally carried out by your GP, and they may prescribe painkillers, anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants to help your body heal. Corticosteroid injections are sometimes suggested if oral anti-inflammatories have not been effective, and the injections are given at the site of the affected nerve root. Your GP may also recommend you undergo physiotherapy at the same time as taking medication, and your physiotherapist will show you how to do a range of targeted exercises to strengthen your back muscles and improve flexibility. When conservative treatment has not been effective, your GP may refer you for surgery, which involves having the part of the disc that's compressing the sciatic nerve removed.

If you're experiencing symptoms of sciatica, schedule an appointment with your GP as soon as possible, as symptoms can worsen over time without treatment.


28 May 2020

Understanding Primary Care

Hello! My name is Eileen. I would like to introduce you to the topic of primary care. Primary care is often the first contact you will have with the health service when you do not feel well. This could be with your local GP or in your local emergency care centre. Because people do not understand what primary care is, they will often not seek the help they need. When I became unwell last year, I visited my GP and then was sent to the hospital. During this time, I developed a good understanding of primary care. I hope my blog helps you.