Sciatica is the name that is given to a common type of pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that runs down the back of the leg.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is not a medical diagnosis as such, but rather a way to describe a particular set of symptoms that can occur due to an underlying medical condition that causes compression of the sciatic nerve.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Pain that runs from the lower back down the back of the leg or buttock.
The pain can vary from a mild ache to a sharp, burning or shooting pain that can become debilitating.
Pain that is worse when sitting.
You may experience numbness, tingling or weakness in the affected leg.
The pain can be made worse by coughing or sneezing.
Sharp pain that can make it difficult to walk.
Causes of Sciatica
Compression of the sciatic nerve is most commonly caused by a herniated disc at the L5-S1 spinal level.
Degenerative disc disease (breaking down of the spinal discs.)
Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal nerve canals in the lumbar spine, usually as a result of calcification/bone spurs.)
Spondylolysthesis (a condition where one vertebra slips forward on the vertebra below.)
Piriformis Syndrome (a muscle in the buttock that can compress the sciatic nerve if it spasms.)
Rarer causes of sciatica may include pregnancy, spinal tumour, scar tissue, or infection.
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