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What Is Sciatica? Causes and Treatments

What Is Sciatica? Causes and Treatments
Kevin Cleary

Back pain can be quite common. Often it can be caused by overexertion or an over stretching of muscles in the back, but what happens when a nerve becomes impinged in our lower back? This can cause a condition known as sciatica. This can be a debilitating issue and interfere with your everyday tasks and quality of life. As you can imagine, this can be incredibly troubling, so let HPFY give you the facts about sciatica that can help you treat this issue and maybe even avoid it.

Sciatic Nerve

What are the causes of Sciatica?

Pain can be caused by an impingement on our nerves by a wide variety of causes. In the case of sciatica, pain is caused by the sciatic nerve, a.k.a. the ischiadic master nerve, being compressed or irritated. This nerve runs through the hip joint area down through your leg. This impingement can also cause numbness, tingling, and even muscle weakness. Some of the more common causes of sciatic nerve impingement include:

  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Herniated Disc
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Pregnancy
  • PinformisSyndrome

While these physical maladies can bring about chronic pain, there are some acute reasons for sciatica to appear. These can include coughing, sneezing, and muscular hypertension. The pain associated with this nerve issue is normally felt only down one side of your body. This pain can be felt through your lower back and buttocks down to the back of your leg. Often this pain is described as a mild ache to even burning, excruciating pain similar to an electric jolt or shock.

What are Sciatica treatment options?

A great way to treat sciatica is to avoid it altogether (easier said than done). The best prevention is exercise and proper posture, while avoiding lifting heavy weights (especially in an unsafe way). If you must lift, bend at your knees and lift with your legs, not your back. Often sciatica can lessen its severity over time if an acute issue has caused the pain. If sciatic pain persists, you and your doctor have several options available to treat your back pain. These can include:


Often anti-inflammatories such as aspirin or NSAIDs can be all that is needed to treat sciatica pain.

Prescription Medication

Treating more intense sciatica can require stronger pain killers that need a doctor’s prescription. Hydrocodone or oxycodone can alleviate pain by weakening pain signals in your body.

Muscle Relaxants

This type of medication works by depressing the central nervous system and have sedatives and musculoskeletal relaxant properties.

Hot/Cold Therapy

The healing process can benefit from the alternating use of hot and cold packs. Cold packs reduce swelling and inflammation, while hot packs can increase blood flow to improve healing. Also, a pain-relieving gel can help alleviate some pain.


Many patients with sciatica can benefit from a regiment of stretches targeting the lower back region. First, check with your doctor to make sure that any stretching program is appropriate for you. A stretching program can be developed with a physical therapist showing you the proper techniques to avoid further injury. Yoga can be another low impact exercise to help those with back pain.

Stretching Stretching Stretching

Whether through medication or physical therapy/stretching, the number one goal in dealing with sciatica is pain relief. It is only when pain is alleviated that we can go back to our everyday lives. You should work with your doctor or therapist to derive the plan that works best for you and your lifestyle. It may take some time, but relief is nearby.


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.

HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

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