Sciatica is a term that describes symptoms of pain, numbness, and/or weakness that radiate along the sciatic nerve from the lower back to the buttocks and leg. The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy.
The vast majority of sciatica symptoms result from lower back disorders between the L4 and S1 levels that put pressure on or cause irritation to a lumbar nerve root.
Most commonly, sciatica is caused by a disc problem, such as a herniated disc that is pressing against a nerve root.
It can also occur when a disc degenerates, which releases inflammatory proteins that irritate the adjacent nerve. There are many additional causes of sciatica.
Sciatica symptoms are typically felt on only one side of the body. They may include a combination of leg and foot pain, weakness, tingling or numbness.
Sciatica pain is often described as searing or sharp, as opposed to achy or throbbing.
Depending on where the sciatic nerve roots are compressed, symptoms may be felt in different areas of the leg and into the foot.
It is important to remember that sciatica is a symptom of an underlying condition, not a diagnosis in itself.