Sciatica is not a specific health condition, but rather the term used to describe the symptoms associated with compression, irritation, or inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in the body, extending from nerve roots in the lower back down to the legs. Symptoms often include pain in the lower back, buttock, foot, or leg. Sciatica is also experienced as muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling.
Sciatica can occur as the result of many different conditions, including pregnancy, spinal tumors (rarely), trauma, herniated discs, or spondylolisthesis (the displacement of a vertebra).
Because sciatica can be treated holistically and is not life-threatening, the use of pain medications is not recommended. Pain medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, have many adverse side effects. For example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can cause gastrointestinal distress, kidney damage, and are included on the list of the most common causes of death in this country. It makes little sense to inflict long-term damage on the body to alleviate the symptoms of a short-term, treatable condition.