Sciatica Pain


Sciatica is a condition characterised by pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, affecting one side of the body. It’s most commonly caused by a herniated disk, bone spur, or spinal stenosis compressing the nerve. Treatment options range from home remedies like heat and cold therapy to minimally invasive procedures like epidural steroid injections. Preventative measures include regular exercise, maintaining proper posture, and a healthy lifestyle.

Feeling discomfort or pain that might be sciatica? Don’t let pain hold you back. Contact the Sydney Pain Clinic today to explore your treatment options and take the first step towards pain relief. Our experts are here to help you manage your pain and regain your quality of life.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition characterised by pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body. It most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine, or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the nerve. This compression causes inflammation, pain, and often some numbness in the affected leg. Although the pain associated with sciatica can be severe, most cases resolve with non-operative treatments in a few weeks. People who have severe sciatica that’s associated with significant leg weakness or bowel or bladder changes might be candidates for surgery.

What Causes Sciatica?

Sciatica is primarily caused by the irritation of the root(s) of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine. Other common causes of this condition include:


Understanding the underlying cause of sciatica is crucial for effective treatment and management of the condition.

What are the Risk Factors for Sciatica?

Several factors can increase your risk of developing sciatica, including:

  • Age: Age-related changes in the spine, such as herniated disks and bone spurs, are the most common causes of sciatica.
  • Obesity: By increasing the stress on your spine, excessive body weight can contribute to the spinal changes that trigger sciatica.
  • Occupation: A job that requires you to twist your back, carry heavy loads, or drive a motor vehicle for long periods might play a role in sciatica, but there’s no conclusive evidence of this link.
  • Prolonged Sitting: People who sit for prolonged periods or have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop sciatica compared to active people.
  • Diabetes: This condition, which affects the way your body uses blood sugar, increases your risk of nerve damage.
  • Physical Inactivity: Lack of regular exercise can contribute to sciatica symptoms by weakening the back muscles that support your spine.

Understanding these risk factors can help in taking preventive measures to reduce the chances of developing sciatica.

What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

The hallmark symptom of sciatica is pain that radiates from your lower (lumbar) spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg. This pain can vary widely, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating discomfort. Sometimes it can feel like a jolt or electric shock. Sciatica typically affects only one side of your body and can range in severity from mild to severe. Other common symptoms include:

  • Numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot.
  • Pain that worsens with movement; sneezing, coughing, or any sudden movement may aggravate the pain.
  • Pain that is typically worse when sitting for long periods.
  • Difficulty moving the leg or foot due to numbness or weakness.

It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms, especially if they are severe, worsen over time, or prevent you from performing daily activities.

Diagnosis for Sciatica Management

The diagnosis of sciatica begins with a thorough medical history and physical examination. During the examination, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform various tests to determine the nerve that is causing your pain. These tests may involve asking you to walk on your toes or heels, rise from a squatting position, and, while lying on your back, lift your legs one at a time. Pain that results from sciatica will usually worsen during these activities.

Further diagnostic tests may include:

  • Imaging Tests: X-rays, MRI scans, and CT scans can provide detailed images of the spine and are used to identify the cause of sciatica by revealing issues like herniated disks or bone spurs.
  • Nerve Tests: Electromyography (EMG) can assess the electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of your muscles. This test can confirm nerve compression caused by herniated disks or narrowing of your spinal canal (spinal stenosis).

Diagnostic Imaging

such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans may be used to obtain a detailed view of the spinal structure


such as nerve conduction studies and electromyograms

These diagnostic tools are crucial for developing an effective treatment plan tailored to the individual’s specific cause of sciatica.

Are There Any Minimally Invasive Treatments for Sciatica?

Yes, there are several minimally invasive treatments for sciatica that focus on relieving pain and inflammation while promoting healing. These options include:

These treatments are generally considered when conservative measures like medications and physical therapy do not relieve symptoms. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment based on the individual’s specific condition and overall health.

Can I Treat Sciatica at Home?

Yes, there are several ways to treat sciatica at home, which can help manage pain and improve mobility:

  • Cold and Heat Therapies: Applying ice packs to the affected area for the first few days followed by heat therapy can help reduce pain and inflammation. Ice packs should be applied for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. After a few days, switch to heat therapy using a heating pad or hot pack to relax tense muscles that may be contributing to the pain.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can reduce inflammation and pain associated with sciatica.
  • Gentle Stretching Exercises: Stretching exercises for the lower back can help relieve nerve root compression. Gentle yoga poses can also improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles of the back and abdomen.
  • Proper Posture: Maintaining proper posture when sitting and using ergonomically designed furniture can help take pressure off the spine and reduce symptoms.
  • Stay Active: While rest is important, staying active is equally vital. Prolonged inactivity can worsen symptoms. Light activities like walking or water exercises can improve spine flexibility and strengthen the muscles.

It’s crucial to start with gentle, low-impact activities and gradually increase intensity based on your comfort level and pain tolerance. If home treatment methods do not alleviate your symptoms, or if your symptoms worsen, consult a healthcare professional.

How Can I Prevent Sciatica?

While not all instances of sciatica can be prevented, there are several lifestyle modifications and preventative measures that can reduce your risk and protect your back:

  • Exercise Regularly: Focus on exercises that strengthen your back, abdomen, and leg muscles. Core strengthening exercises can help stabilise your spine and reduce the chances of injury.
  • Maintain Proper Posture: When sitting, choose chairs with good back support, armrests, and a swivel base. Keep your knees and hips level and place a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve.
  • Lift Properly: Always lift objects from a squatting position, keeping your back straight and lifting with your legs rather than your back. Never twist your body while lifting.
  • Stay Active: Avoid prolonged periods of sitting or lying down. Make sure to stand up, stretch, and move around regularly throughout the day.
  • Healthy Diet and Weight: Maintaining a healthy diet and a normal weight can help prevent sciatica by reducing the pressure on your spine.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of disc degeneration and other spine problems, which can lead to sciatica.

Incorporating these practices into your daily routine can help minimise the risk of sciatica and improve your overall spinal health.

The content of this website is intended solely for general informational purposes. It should not be regarded as conclusive medical advice under any circumstances. We strongly advise consulting with top-tier pain management experts and medical professionals at Sydney Pain Clinic for any queries or concerns. A comprehensive assessment is essential for a precise diagnosis and treatment strategy. Remember to contact our pain management specialists and clinicians in Sydney to arrange a consultation.

18 Roslyn Street
Potts Point 2011 NSW

18 Roslyn Street
Potts Point 2011 NSW


18 Roslyn Street
Potts Point 2011 NSW