Sciatica is a collective medical term for pain caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. This is the longest human nerve, starting in the pelvic bone and ending at the foot. Most people who develop a problem experience the symptoms of sciatica in buttocks, and some also in the legs. Often, the condition resolves itself after a few weeks.

Understanding the Symptoms of Sciatica in Buttocks:

As soon as there is irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, you will experience:

  • Weakness in the muscles responsible for foot and ankle movement.
  • Tingling sensations.
  • Numbness.
  • Pain, ranging from mild to severe, and usually made worse after sitting, coughing, or sneezing.

Do You Need Medical Help?

The symptoms of sciatica in buttocks are quite generic and often nothing to worry about. However, if the pain gets worse over time, is very persistent, or is severe, then you must seek medical advice. Your physician will be able to confirm a diagnosis and devise a treatment plan for you, which may include a referral to a specialist. The "passive straight leg raise test" is an important yet simple diagnostic test. In this test, you lie down on your back, lifting one leg and then the other. If this causes pain or makes things worse, then you are likely to have sciatica.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should immediately call 911:

  • Feeling numbness or tingling around the buttocks or between the legs.
  • Losing control of your bowel and/or bladder.
  • Experiencing sciatica in both legs.

What Causes Sciatica?

Most of the time, a slipped disc is the cause of sciatica. This happens when one of the discs between the vertebrae becomes damaged and presses on your nerves. Sometimes, however, the cause isn't  clear. Some other known causes include:

  • Cauda equina syndrome, which is very rare and very serious and is caused by the spinal cord's nerves becoming damaged and compressed.
  • A tumor or other type of growth within the spine itself.
  • An infection or injury of the spine.
  • Spondylolisthesis, whereby a vertebra becomes dislodged.
  • Spinal stenosis, whereby the spine's nerve passages become narrowed.

Treatment For Sciatica:

Most people experience around six weeks of manageable pain, after which the condition simply goes away. There are plenty of self-help remedies out there, including over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, taking a rest from certain activities, and using cold or hot packs. Sometimes, however, more treatment are needed, including:

  • A tailored exercise program that is physiotherapist supervised.
  • Stronger painkilling medication injections.
  • Manual therapy under guidance of an expert.
  • Psychological support and therapy.
  • Surgery.

Preventing Sciatica:

Sciatica can be avoided by:

  • Exercising regularly.
  • Stretching before you exercise and again afterwards.
  • Making sure you use the right lifting and bending techniques.

Do also make sure that you sleep on a firm mattress, so that your body is properly supported, particularly around your buttocks and spine, while at the same time ensuring that your spine is straight. If you have a very soft mattress, then you should place a board underneath it and use a pillow. Always make sure, however, that you do not force your neck upwards into an angle that will not support it properly.