Photo: Getty Images
The largest nerves in your body is the sciatic nerve. According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), "The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body, running from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of each leg. It controls the muscles of the lower leg and provides sensation to the thighs, legs, and the soles of the feet."
Issues with the sciatic almost never occur between 30-50 years of age. Some pregnant women may develop issues with the sciatic nerve due to the extra pressure or weight on the nerve area. The pressure on the nerve can be age- or injury-related.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, other causes of sciatica may include:
• Piriformis syndrome (a pain disorder involving the narrow muscle in the buttocks)
• Slipped disk
• Pelvic injury or fracture
In the article for Spine-Health.com, author Dr. Stephen H. Hochschuler stated the following are symptoms of sciatica:
• A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or to walk
• Burning or tingling down the leg (vs. a dull ache)
• Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely can occur in both legs)
• Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
• Pain that is worse when sitting
• A constant pain on one side of the rear
The sciatic nerve generally doesn’t require extensive treatment as the symptoms usually subside. However, at-home treatments include an over-the-counter pain reliever (Advil, Motrin IB, Tylenol, etc) and ice. Bed rest is not recommended and can actually make the issue worse. However you should reduce your exercise program for a few days. Once the sciatic nerve pain subsides, add or increase flexibility exercises for your back and strengthening exercises of your stomach.
If your pain does not decrease after a few weeks, your doctor may give you an injection to reduce the swelling. For those with disabling leg pain, usually after three months or more, surgery may be a final option.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "Approximately 80 to 90 percent of patients with sciatica get better over time without surgery."