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Pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve.  The pain often affects the buttock and thigh, occasionally extending down the leg to the foot.  In extreme cases, the pain can be accompanied by numbness and/or weakness in the afflicted area.

The most widespread cause is a ruptured intervertebral disc pushing on the nerve route.  Other causes include a muscle spasm, sitting uncomfortably for long periods or, less frequently, pressure on the nerve from a tumour.  Occasionally the cause is unknown.

Treatment of sciatica is with nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesic drugs (pain killers).  If the pain is extreme, a brief period of bed rest can be helpful, although prolonged rest can cause the sciatica to worsen.  Physiotherapy can help in some cases, but neurosurgery can be necessary if other treatments are ineffective or if there is nerve route compression.  It is vital to try and maintain a healthy weight and posture.

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