Sciatica

Sciatica is pain caused by irritation or pressure against the nerve roots of the sciatic nerve. People with sciatica usually have a shooting pain down the back of the leg. But they also may have leg weakness, tingling, or numbness. The sciatic nerve is formed by the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the…

Sciatica

Sciatica is pain caused by irritation or pressure against the nerve roots of the sciatic nerve. People with sciatica usually have a shooting pain down the back of the leg. But they also may have leg weakness, tingling, or numbness.

The sciatic nerve is formed by the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the lower back (lumbar region). The nerve goes down through the buttock, then its branches extend down the back of the leg to the ankle and foot.

Sciatica is usually caused by a bulging or ruptured (herniated) spinal disc that presses against one or more of the nerve roots that form the sciatic nerve. Pregnancy is also a common cause of the condition. Bone spurs (from arthritis or spinal stenosis), compressed nerve roots (usually a result of an injury), and certain rare tumors may also cause sciatica.

Symptoms may become worse from sitting, prolonged standing, or moving in ways that flex the spine (such as curl-ups and knee-to-chest exercises). Symptoms can also become worse from increased pressure from sneezing, coughing, having a bowel movement, or straining for a heavy lift or while laboring to deliver a baby. Symptoms may be relieved by walking, lying down, and moving in ways that extend the spine (such as press-ups).

Treatment depends on what is causing the nerve irritation. Heat or cold therapy (applying ice or a cold pack to the lower back) or physical therapy is often used to help relieve pain.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It is formed by nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord in the lower back. The nerve goes down through the buttock, and then its branches extend down the back of the leg to the ankle and foot. A herniated disc may press on one or more of the nerve roots that form the…

Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It is formed by nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord in the lower back. The nerve goes down through the buttock, and then its branches extend down the back of the leg to the ankle and foot.

A herniated disc may press on one or more of the nerve roots that form the sciatic nerve. Pressure on one of these nerve roots will often cause symptoms of sciatica, such as pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the affected leg.

A herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica. But sciatica can also be a symptom of other problems. These include a narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis), pressure on a nerve root from an injury, and certain rare tumors.

Current as ofJune 26, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kenneth J. Koval MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma
Robert B. Keller MD - Orthopedics

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.