Signs of a severe case of sciatica is a loss of sensation (numbness), muscle weakness, and/or a loss of bowel or bladder function. Obesity, long period of sitting, diabetes, an occupation that requires heavy lifting, twisting or driving long periods, and age increase the risk of getting sciatica. Depending on the source of the pain, the right treatment will result in pain reduction and in most cases, elimination of the pain. Some situations such as a history of back surgery or other comorbidities, sciatica symptoms may not respond as easily. Prevention measures include exercise, especially strengthening the lower back and abdominals, maintain good sitting posture, and using correct body mechanics when lifting, sleeping, and standing.
A simple test that can be performed at home to determine if you have sciatica. The test involves sitting in a chair and extending your leg. First, sit in a kitchen chair with you head down (towards chest). Next, extend your leg (so your knee is straight) and your toes are pointing towards the ceiling. Do this test on both sides. If you feel pain, numbness, or tingling and the knee does not fully straighten, these findings may indicate that you have sciatica. A simple exercise for sciatica is performed in standing. Stand with your hands on your hips and extend backwards until you feel a mild stretch in your back. Hold the stretch position for about 5 seconds and perform 10-15 repetitions. This exercise will either decrease your symptoms, have not effect or make your symptoms worse.