Sciatica, a set of symptoms due to pressure on or damage to the sciatic nerve, is commonly caused by a slipped disk, pelvic injury, spinal stenosis and tumors, according to MedlinePlus. Sciatica may cause tingling, weakness or numbness in the legs.
The sciatic nerve runs the length of both legs from the lower back, reports MedlinePlus. It controls the nerves in the legs and soles of the feet. The pain typically occurs on one side and starts slowly. Sciatica patients often experience a sharp pain in the leg or a numb sensation in the calf and foot. Coughing, laughing, sitting, bending or standing may make the pain worse.
Sciatica is not a medical condition, but a symptom of an underlying issue, states MedlinePlus. Addressing this underlying issue helps reduce or correct the pain caused by sciatica. Although sciatica often remedies itself naturally without treatment, doctors may recommend over-the-counter pain killers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help manage the pain in the meantime. Applying hot or cold packs to the area may also help ease symptoms.
Other ways to treat sciatic pain include limiting activities for a few days before slowly resuming them, MedlinePlus explains. A patient should not engage in heavy lifting or twisting in the first six weeks, although regular exercise may continue after two to three weeks. Exercises that strengthen core muscles of the abdomen and increase spine flexibility are often recommended. If conservative treatments fail to produce results, the doctor may administer injections to treat swelling or reduce severe pain from nerve irritation.