• The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, and it runs from the lower back through the buttocks and to the feet. Irritation of the sciatic nerve can cause a common condition known as sciatica.


    Sciatica symptoms are numbness, weakness, tingling, and shooting pain along the path of the nerve.


    The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disk. Other causes include pressure on the spinal cord (spinal stenosis), displaced vertebrae (spondylolisthesis), irritation of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle (piriformis syndrome), spinal tumors and trauma.

    Risk Factors

    People who are older than 30 or have diabetes can be at higher risk for sciatica. So can those who have jobs or hobbies at which they sit for long periods of time, twist their backs, or lift heavy objects.


    Sciatica is usually treatable with hot or cold packs, over-the-counter drugs and stretching. Doctors might recommend physical therapy or prescription painkillers in the case of a herniated disk or persistent pain. Severe cases might require epidural steroid injections or surgery.


    Sciatica risk factors can be reduced by exercising regularly, lifting correctly, and maintaining good posture while sitting and standing.


    Mayo Clinic: Sciatica

    Spine Universe: Leading Causes of Sciatica

    More Information:

    American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

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