Sciatica

Definition

The sciatic nerve begins from the lower spine on either side. It travels deep in the pelvis to the lower buttocks. From there, it passes along the back of each upper leg and divides at the knee into branches that go to the feet. Sciatica is an irritation of the sciatic nerve.
Sciatic Nerve Pain
Sciatica Nerve Pain
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Sciatica is caused by irritation or pressure on the sciatic nerve. This can be the result of:
  • Herniated disc —the cushions between the bones of your spine bulge and press on the nerve as it exits the spinal column
  • Arthritis in the lower back
  • Spinal stenosis —narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar area
  • Spondylolisthesis —slippage of a bone in the lower back
  • Cauda equina syndrome —nerve roots at the base of the spinal cord are compressed
  • Piriformis syndrome— spasm of piriformis muscle

Risk Factors

Sciatica is more common in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of sciatica include:Lifestyle and personal health factors, such as:Occupational factors, such as:
  • Heavy manual labor
  • Heavy lifting
  • Exposure to vibrations
  • A job that requires standing for long periods of time and forward bending
Health conditions, such as:
  • Fractures in the back
  • Tumors
  • Infections
  • Metabolic problems, such as diabetes

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