Sciatic pain usually starts in the buttocks and extends down the rear of the thigh and lower leg to the sole of the foot and along the outer side of the lower leg to the top of the foot. Pain may also be present in the lower back.
Sciatica refers to pain along the path of the sciatica nerve. It is usually caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. Fortunately, most cases of sciatica are not serious and usually resolve within six weeks. The sciatic nerve branches off nerve roots at the lower end of the spinal cord – it’s two branches run from the lower back through the each side of the pelvis, buttocks, back of leg to the foot.
Sciatica refers to pain that begins in the hip and buttocks and continues all the way down the leg. This condition is often accompanied by low back pain, which can be more or less severe than the leg pain. The term “sciatica” indicates that the sciatic nerve, which travels from the lower back through the buttocks and into the leg, is thought to be the cause of the pain in this condition. True sciatica is a condition that occurs when a herniated lumbar disc compresses one of the contributing roots of the sciatic nerve. This type of low back pain is less common than other causes and conditions that produce back pain.
The sciatic nerve is commonly injured by fractures of the pelvis, gunshot wounds, or other trauma to the buttocks or thigh. Prolonged sitting or lying with pressure on the buttocks may also injure it. Systemic diseases, such as diabetes, can typically damage many different nerves, including the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve may also be harmed by pressure from masses such as a tumor or abscess, or by bleeding in the pelvis.
Commonly the major cause can be pinned as disc herniation in the lumbar spine which presses directly on the sciatic nerve and any triggers by such a reaction for example by irritation of the nerve from adjacent bone which in turn produces the symptoms of sciatica. Besides a compressed or a pinched nerve, other causes could also be tumors, muscle, internal bleeding, infections, injury etc. thus sciatica is not really a disease by itself but rather many other dependants make it into a medical condition worthy of attention
The most common symptom of sciatica mimics the pain of a severe leg cramp. Depending on where damage to the nerve occurs, pain may be accompanied by numbness or tingling, a burning sensation or general weakness in the leg.
Symptoms can vary from extreme pain in the low back radiating into one buttock and down the leg. Pain often increases on exertion or bending forward. Alternatively, there may only be a mild sensation in the leg or buttock. There may be numbness in the area, weakness in the leg and diminution of the reflexes. Pain may be triggered by coughing or straining and can be so severe that the lower back becomes locked in sideways bending position (scoliosis) caused by a strong contraction.