Sciatica is pain, tingling, or numbness produced by an irritation of the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is formed by the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the lower back. Branches of the sciatic nerve extend through the buttocks and down the back of each leg to the ankle and foot.
The most common cause of sciatica is a bulging or ruptured disc (herniated disc) in the spine pressing against the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve. But sciatica also can be a symptom of other conditions that affect the spine, such as:
In rare cases, sciatica can also be caused by conditions that do not involve the spine, such as tumours or pregnancy.
Symptoms of sciatica include pain that begins in your back or buttocks and moves down your leg and may move into your foot. Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the leg may also occur.
In many cases, sciatica will improve and go away with time. Initial treatment usually focuses on medicines and exercises to relieve pain. You can help relieve pain by:
Additional treatment for sciatica depends on what is causing the nerve irritation. If your symptoms do not improve, your doctor may suggest: