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Facts and Tips About Sciatica

Sciatica is a pain that shoots along the sciatic nerve, radiating through the buttocks and down the back of the leg and as far as the foot. The two sciatic nerves (one on each side of the lower body) are the longest in the human nervous system, running all the way from the lower back through the thighs and calves to the feet.

Sciatica is caused by different types of pressure on the sciatic nerve in the lower back or buttocks. It can also be the result of damage to the nerve roots that feed into the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is usually felt only on one side of the body. The pain can occur along the entire length of the sciatic nerve.
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Sciatica pain comes from inflammation of the sciatic nerve.

Pain is felt from your lower back, down to the back of your thigh and the pain will shoot down below your knee. It can even be felt in calf, ankle and foot. This is the largest nerve in the body. The nerve roots begin in the lumbar spinal cord in your lower back and extend down through your buttocks area. It will send nerve endings down to the lower limbs. Sciatica usually is caused by a disc herniation that puts pressure on a nerve. As a result of this, irritation or inflammation on this nerve can produce these warning signs of sciatica. Irritation can be caused by adjacent bone, tumors, injury, infections, internal bleeding.

It used to be that bed rest was the best option for this type of back pain. This is no longer the case. Most doctors now recommend waiting and avoiding certain activities while the back heals. Gentle stretching and activity can help you work through the pain and aid in the healing process.

There are ways to avoid sciatic pain and other reoccurring pain in your lower back:
  • When lifting use a safe technique.
  • Do not stand or sit in same position for to long at a time
  • Exercise and stretching on a regular basis can really be effective
  • Try not to carry a wallet in your back pocket
  • Sleep on back with pillow under knees or pillow in between knees if sleeping on your side
  • Try to keep stomach muscles in shape
  • Always wear comfortable well-fitted shoes

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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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