Sciatica is a chronic inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the base of the spine through the buttocks and down each leg, according to Mayo Clinic. The condition can be painful to the point of disability, though typically only one leg is affected.
A common cause of sciatica is pressure against the root of the nerve. This is most often the result of a herniated disk in the spine or the presence of a bone spur on the hip, explains Mayo Clinic. Most of the time, the symptoms of sciatica are short-lived and clear up within a few weeks of primary onset, with little more than rest and pain-relieving medication. If the pain is chronic, lasting longer than six weeks or returning multiple times, it may become necessary to identify the underlying cause of the inflammation and pursue more aggressive treatment options.
Sciatica is treated with a wide range of medications, from relatively simple anti-inflammatory medications that are available over the counter to prescription narcotics and anticonvulsants used for treating epilepsy, according to Mayo Clinic. Physical therapy may also be tried to relieve pressure on the nerve, and surgery may be required if the condition causes significant weakness or incontinence.