Sciatica is a symptom of a disorder that compresses the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves in your body. This nerve starts in the lower back and travels downward behind the hip joint, through the buttocks, and along the back of each leg into the feet.
Classic sciatica is low back pain that radiates (travels) through the buttock(s) and down into one or both legs (back of thigh and calf), and sometimes into the foot (or feet). Common symptoms:
Loss of bowel and/or bladder control may be a symptom of cauda equina syndrome, a serious medical condition. Seek medical care immediately if you experience a loss of bowel or bladder control.
Video: Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
Click below to view a video from our library about this condition.
The diagnosis of sciatica should be made by an expert physician and may include the following.
Sciatica often resolves without any treatment. Therapies that can help resolve sciatica include:
Depending on the cause of sciatica, presence of neurological deficit, cauda equina syndrome (e.g., loss of bowel and/or bladder control), or other problem, surgery may be recommended. Sciatica rarely requires surgical intervention.
Sciatica is a painful condition that can be treated if it is properly diagnosed. Treatment may include learning about biomechanics, lifestyle changes, and prevention.
Patient Guides to Spine Conditions