What Exactly is Sciatica?

You may have heard this term thrown around and you know it has to do something with back pain–“sciatic.” But what exactly is sciatica? If someone says, they have sciatica, they’re referring to the pain associated with their sciatic nerve. It’s not a condition itself, but a symptom of an underlying condition. The sciatic nerve is a major never that runs from the lower back, through the buttocks and down each leg. Hallmark symptoms of sciatic include pain in your lower back (lumbar), buttocks, hips and legs as well as tingling, and numbness in the lower extremities. People with sciatica may experience mild pain to severe pain. Some people may even describe their sciatica as a really bad leg cramp.

What Causes Sciatica?

Sciatica is caused when the sciatic nerve gets irritated. But how exactly does it get irritated? The most common cause of sciatic is a herniated or slipped disc. This very common condition occurs when a spinal disk that sits between your vertebrae, slips out of place. It may also be caused by degenerative disc disease (osteoarthritis of the spine) and lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal).


3D medical animation still showing back pain caused by a compression of the sciatic nerve. | Image Credit: http://www.scientificanimations.com/wiki-images/ CC BY-SA 4.0

How Do I Know if I Have Sciatica?

At Everett Spine & Rehab, we will conduct a physical exam and take note of your health history, in order to diagnose you. We will develop a treatment plan specifically for you. If you think you have sciatica, or are experiencing pain, don’t wait–please schedule an appointment with us at (425) 347-8614.


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