Sciatica

Picture of sciatic nerve and its location in the body

Illustration copyright 2000 by Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.nucleusinc.com

The sciatic nerve is formed by the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the lower back (lumbar region). Branches of the sciatic nerve extend through the buttocks and down the back of each leg to the ankle and foot.

A herniated disc may compress one or more of the nerve roots that form the sciatic nerve. Pressure on one of these nerve roots will often produce distinctive symptoms of sciatica, such as pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the affected leg.

Although a herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica, sciatica can also be a symptom of other problems, such as narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis), nerve root compression resulting from injury, and certain rare tumors.

Last Updated: July 21, 2008

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

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