When Sciatica Gets on Your Nerves

Sciatica2Several spine conditions can lead to a relatively common form of back and leg pain called sciatica. Here’s what you should know about it.

What is sciatica?

Contrary to how it sounds, sciatica isn’t a disease or a condition. Rather, it’s a term that describes certain symptoms, namely, pain that radiates from the buttock down the leg accompanied by tingling or numbness. Sciatica can occur on both sides of the body at the same time, but it is typically felt on one side only.

What causes it?

Something putting pressure on your sciatic nerve, a nerve that starts at the base of your spine and stretches all the way down both of your legs to your knees. The sciatic nerve is responsible for helping the muscles in your lower body feel and move. The most common cause is a herniated disk in your spine. Other causes include: degenerative disc disease, narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back (lumbar spinal stenosis), a vertebra slipping forward over the vertebra below it (spondylolisthesis)

Do I need treatment?

The majority of people who suffer from sciatica will not need surgery. Most cases can be treated conservatively; the patient will need some combination of rest, specific exercises, pain relievers/NAISDS, massage, and/or physical therapy. It’s important to understand that your health care team will be working to treat the underlying condition or issue causing your symptoms, rather than the symptoms alone.