Sciatica is pain that extends down each leg along the course of the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your hips and buttocks. Sciatica usually affects only one side of the body. The condition often occurs when a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine, or a narrowing of the spine compresses part of the nerve. Inflammation, pain, and numbness are common symptoms in the affected leg. Even though the pain associated with sciatica can be severe, the majority of cases recover within a few weeks with non-operative treatments.
Sciatica is caused by a pinched sciatic nerve, which is usually caused by a herniated disk in your spine or a bone spur on one of your vertebrae. Rarely, a tumor might compress the nerve or a disease like diabetes can damage the nerve.
- Age – Sciatica is most commonly caused by age-related changes in the spine, such as herniated disks and bone spurs.
- Obesity – Excess body weight can contribute to the spinal changes that cause sciatica by increasing the tension on your spine.
- Previous Injury – Sciatica is more likely after a lower back or spine injury.
- Occupation – Sciatica may also be caused by jobs that require you to twist your back, carry heavy weight, or drive a vehicle for lengthy periods, although there is no solid evidence of this link.
- Prolonged Sitting – Sciatica is more likely to occur in those who sit for long periods or live a sedentary lifestyle.
- Diabetes – This disease affects the way your body uses blood sugar, increasing your risk of nerve damage.
Sciatica is characterized by pain that extends from your lower (lumbar) spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg. The discomfort can occur anywhere along the nerve pathway, but it is likely to occur along a path that runs from your lower back to your buttocks, as well as the back of your thigh and calf.
Pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, burning sensation or severe pain. It can feel like a jolt or an electric shock at times. Coughing or sneezing can make it worse and sitting for lengthy periods of time might exacerbate symptoms. The majority of the time, only one side of your body is affected.
Numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot are also common symptoms for some. You may experience pain in one portion of your leg while feeling numbness in another.