Sciatica is pain that starts in the back or the buttock and then runs down the path of the sciatic nerve down the leg. It can go all the way down to the ankle and foot or sometimes just part of the leg depending on how severe it is. It can occur in just one or sometimes both legs
Other symptoms of sciatica can be pins and needles or numbness down the leg in the same area you would feel pain as well as muscle weakness in the leg. These symptoms are often made worse by bending, cough or sneeze, lifting, sitting on the sore buttock and standing.
The pain is due to pressure on the sciatic nerve that causes pain to be sent down the length of the nerve. This pressure can come from a variety of sources but the most common is a disc bulge that pushes out and puts pressure on the nerve root. Other causes include inflammation of the nearby back joints due to injury, poor posture, osteoarthritis, muscle spasm, swelling around the nerve root or bony growth around the spine.
Physiotherapy treatment of sciatica involves a thorough history and examination to try and work out the exact cause of the pressure on the spine. Treatment can then involve a variety of methods including joint mobilisations, electrotherapy, massage, traction, core strength work, improved pelvic stability and home exercises and stretches.
The vast majority of people have a good outcome with physiotherapy, exercise and rest from the activities that are causing the pain.