Sciatica is pain in the lower extremity resulting from irritation of the sciatic nerve. The pain of sciatica is typically felt from the low back (lumbar area) to behind the thigh and radiating down below the knee. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and begins from nerve roots in the lumbar spinal cord in the low back and extends through the buttock area to send nerve endings down the lower limb. The pain of sciatica is sometimes referred to as sciatic nerve pain.
Sciatica Nerve Pain
Sciatica is often characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely can occur in both legs)
- Pain that is worse when sitting
- Burning or tingling down the leg (vs. a dull ache)
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- A constant pain on one side of the rear
- A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or to walk
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is caused by irritation of the nerve of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine.
Additional common causes of sciatica include:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back)
- Degenerative disc disease (breakdown of discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae)
- Spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another one)
- Other things that may make your back pain worse include being overweight, not exercising regularly, wearing high heels, or sleeping on a mattress that is too soft.
What are risk factors for sciatica?
Risk factors for sciatica include degenerative arthritis of the lumbar spine, lumbar disc disease, and trauma or injury to the lumbar spine.
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