The sciatic nerve is a large nerve which runs down the back of each leg. Sciatic nerve pain is leg pain due to medical conditions usually seen in the back. These cause pain, weakness or tingling, which travels through the sciatic nerve and down from the lower back through the legs.
A pain radiating down the leg, a burning or sharp pain affecting standing and walking, and pain when sitting can all be indicative of sciatic nerve pain. The pain is usually caused by the sciatic nerve being pinched or irritated at its source. Reasons for this can include disc herniation in the lumbar spine, disc degeneration or narrowing of the spinal cord, also known as spinal stenosis.
Sciatica is not usually caused by an injury but more by a general increase in wear and tear on the body and therefore is most commonly seen in those aged 40-50.
As sciatica is not generally a stand-alone condition and instead is caused by another underlying condition, the best form of treatment is to identify and treat the medical condition causing the sciatic nerve pain. The symptoms of sciatic nerve pain themselves can be treated and the treatments can include hot and cold packs, analgesic medication and in severe cases epidural steroid injections.
Hot and cold packs can be applied to the area for a period of 20 minutes and repeated every couple of hours. This encourages good blood flow to the area and natural healing to take place. Heat and cold packs may be alternated.
Painkillers can be bought over the counter or from your local pharmacist and you may be recommended to take Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen or a muscle relaxant to ease associated muscle spasms.
Epidural steroid injections are injections made into the epidural space around the spinal cord and can be extremely beneficial in treating the conditions which can lead to sciatic nerve pain. The injections consist of both a steroid and a local anaesthetic and this combination helps to reduce the inflammation of the nerves. Pain relief can vary from patient to patient but many will see many years relief after such a procedure. Book a consultation for an assessment with our specialist, Dr Stephen Humble, at any of our clinics throughout London.