Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is caused by injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica is a symptom of another medical problem, not a medical condition on its own.
Pinched Sciatic Nerve & other Causes
Sciatica occurs when there is pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the lower spine and runs down the back of each leg. This nerve controls the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg and provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot. Common causes of sciatica include:
- Slipped disk
- Piriformis syndrome (a pain disorder involving the narrow muscle in the buttocks)
- Pelvic injury or fracture
Sciatica is generally caused by the compression of lumbar nerves or sacral nerves or by compression of the sciatic nerve itself. When sciatica is caused by compression of a dorsal nerve root, it is considered a lumbar radiculopathy. This can occur as a result of a spinal disk bulge or spinal disc herniation (a herniated intervertebral disc), or from roughening, enlarging, or misalignment of the vertebrae, or as a result of degenerated discs that can reduce the diameter of the lateral foramen through which nerve roots exit the spine.
What are the Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica pain can vary widely. It may feel like a mild tingling, dull ache, or a burning sensation. In some cases, the pain is severe enough to make a person unable to move.
Treatments & Pain Management
The pain most often occurs on one side. Some people have sharp pain in one part of the leg or hip and numbness in other parts. The pain or numbness may also be felt on the back of the calf or on the sole of the foot. The affected leg may feel weak.