March 01, 2016

Sciatica

Lower back and radiating leg pain

Sciatica

You've had low back pain for some time. But now you're having leg pain and a pins and needles feeling that runs through your buttock area and down your leg.

Your doctor says this may be sciatica (sie-AT-ih-kuh). Sciatica results from pressure on the nerve roots that come from the spinal cord. These nerves branch from the spinal cord, exit through openings called neuroforamens between the vertebral bones of the lower spinal column and then merge to form the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs from your lower back, through your buttocks and down the back of each leg.

There are numerous conditions that can cause sciatica. A visit to your doctor — particularly if pain persists for longer than a week, is severe, is becoming progressively worse, or is associated with weakness or numbness in your leg — can help sort out the cause.

Sciatica causes

Sciatica symptoms typically start with a problem in the lower spine, such as:

  • A herniated disk — Also called a ruptured or slipped disk, this is the most common cause of sciatica. Between each of the vertebral bones in your spinal column is a pad of tissue called a disk. A herniated disk occurs when the gel-like interior of the disk pushes through the disk's tough outer lining. This creates a bulge that can put pressure on nerve roots. Over time, the portion of disk material inflaming and compressing the nerve usually ...