Sciatica is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, and that can be caused in a name of ways – such as changes to the discs in the spine where the nerve fibres branch out. Inflammation around the sciatic nerve can also cause problems, and this can happen without any changes to the spinal discs. It can be caused by hypertension in the muscles around the sciatic nerve – regardless of cause, the condition can be very painful.
It’s most common in people in their forties and fifties, but it can affect anyone. There is no set progression for sciatica – some people recover quickly, whereas others can have the condition for months; research suggests around half the propel who have sciatica will have improved at three months, with three-quarters feeling better at 12 months.
The pain varies from person to person and day to day, but it’s important to remember it’s rarely dangerous.
Issues with the muscles in the low back, gluteals (the buttocks), thigh and calf can cause symptoms that mimic sciatica, but aren’t “true” sciatica, although these are often just as painful.