Sciatica is pain associated with the sciatic nerve which usually originates higher along the spinal cord when nerve roots become compressed or damaged from narrowing of the vertebral column or from a slipped or herniated disc. Symptoms can include tingling, numbness, or pain, which radiates to the buttocks, legs and feet.
What is the Sciatic Nerve?
The Sciatic nerve is the main nerve traveling down the leg. This nerve starts in the spine and runs down the back of each leg into the feet. 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.
What causes Sciatica
Common causes of Sciatica include:
- Piriformis syndrome — The piriformis muscle, located in the buttocks, becomes tight and or spasmed and irritates the Sciatic nerve.
- Slipped Disc, Herniated Disc, Bulged Disc-A herniated or bulging disc can push out (like squeezing the jelly out of a jelly doughnut) and irritate the nerve root of the sciatic nerve causing sciatica.
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Spinal Stenosis, narrowing of the canal
What does Sciatica Feel Like?
How Do I Know If I Have Sciatica?
Sciatic pain can vary widely. It may feel like a mild tingling, dull ache, or a burning sensation. Some patients describe it as a hot poker or a shooting electrical pain in the buttocks and down the leg. Often times the pain will shoot down the leg into the foot and have accompanied numbness and tingling in the leg and foot. In some cases, the pain is severe enough to make a person unable to move.
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 sensations may also be felt on the back of the calf or on the sole of the foot. The affected leg may feel weak.