The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy. What you are experiencing is irritation of one (or more) of the nerves in the low back, also called the lumbar region. Nerve irritation can cause leg pain (at times very severe), sensitivity, pins and needles, numbness, weakness or a combination of symptoms. For most people the pain reduces in around 12 weeks. Some people find the symptoms settle of their own accord, some may need help from their GP or a physiotherapist. Exercises and medications, prescribed by a health professional, can help to ease pain and improve mobility as your sciatica heals.

Imaging is not required to confirm the diagnosis of sciatica. Your GP, physiotherapist or MSK practitioner is able to diagnose the condition following a clinical examination. 

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of sciatica are

  • Leg pain, usually more severe than low back pain
  • Pain most commonly down the back of the leg and often extending below the knee
  • Numbness and/or tingling in the affected leg

Useful information on managing sciatica: Sciatica leaflet - PDF