Sciatica is a pain in the leg due to irritation of the sciatic nerve.
The pain generally goes from the front of the thigh to the back of the
calf, and may also extend upward to the hip and down to the foot. In
addition to pain, there may be numbness and difficulty moving or
controlling the leg.
Causes of sciatica
The most common cause of sciatica is a "slipped disc" (a
herniated disc in the spine). Other conditions that can cause or aggravate
sciatica include roughening and enlarging of the vertebrae, tension in
the piriformis muscle, infections, and tumors.
Symptoms and signs
The pain is usually shooting and electric like. It can also burn like
fire or tingle. The pain can range from slightly annoying to totally
unbearable. Some people have pain in one part of the leg and numbness in
another part of the same leg.
- The pain is usually worse with both prolonged sitting and
standing. Some people describe the worst pain when trying to stand
from a low sitting position, such as standing up after sitting on a
- In most people, the pain is made worse by sneezing, coughing,
laughing, or a hard bowel movement.
- There may be an associated weakness in the leg or foot, along with
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Most cases of sciatica can be effectively treated by physical therapy
and appropriate changes in environment (for example cushioning, or chair
and desk height).