The term sciatica (or lumbar radiculopathy) describes pain that results from injury to the sciatic nerve and its branches. This pain, which is generally unilateral, can radiate from the lower back into the buttocks, back of the thigh, outside of the calf area and even into the outside of the foot.

The most common cause of injury to the sciatic nerve and its branches resulting in sciatica is a herniated or slipped disc, where a portion of a disc of cartilage that separates vertebrae in the spine protrudes onto part of the sciatic nerve. Other causes include a narrowing of the space in the lumbar spine through which the sciatic nerves travel (spinal stenosis), a dislocated hip and osteoarthritis.

Treatment for sciatica is generally conservative and can involve performing normal activities as much as possible, back stretches and gentle exercise and the use of hot packs and pain killing therapy, either systemic (tablets) or topical (patches). Sciatica often resolves in 4 – 6 weeks.

This information is for general educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a healthcare professional. The information should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health. Always consult your family doctor or pharmacist about your individual circumstances.

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