The sciatic nerve extends out from the lower portion of the spinal cord into the back of the pelvis, and is the largest single nerve in humans. Sciatica is irritation of that nerve, and is usually felt between the lower back and knees. Most sciatica pain will strike the lower back. The typical cause of sciatic pain is herniations in the spinal discs, usually in the lumbar discs that are connected to the sciatic nerve. If the discs are out of alignment, or if they rupture even mildly, they can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, which will result in pain. Pressure on the sciatic can also result from tumors, muscle or bone misalignment, or internal injuries. Infections are also a possible cause of sciatic pain.

Common reasons for sciatic pain are spinal injuries that induce trauma on the lower back. Other risk factors result from arthritis, or diseases that attack the lumbar discs of the spine. When the pain occurs, it often presents as a burning irritation, or numbness, that will radiate out from the problem area. Because the sciatic nerve covers so much ground in the lower half of the body, the patient might believe the source of the pain is in the hip, or even in the legs. When the pain is present, mobility and desire to maintain a normal level of activity will be reduced.

Key Points:

  • 1Sciata is a type of nerve pain that radiates out from the lower back into the lower extremeties.
  • 2Sciatica can be caused by irritation of the sciattic nerve.
  • 3Treatment of sciatica includes but is not limited to bed rest and the use of antidepressants.

The pain of sciatica is typically felt from the low back (lumbar area) to behind the thigh and can radiate down below the knee.