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The term sciatica, derives from the sciatic nerve, and describes the symptoms of leg pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the legs that originate in the lower back and travel down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg. Sciatica is not a diagnosis, but rather a symptom of underlying conditions. Common lower back problems that can cause sciatic pain are herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, or spinal stenosis. According to Spine Health, “Sciatica rarely occurs before age 20, and becomes more commonplace in middle age. It is most likely to develop around age 40 or 50.”

Symptoms of Sciatica

Sciatica is often characterized by a large spectrum of symptoms. Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg, pain that is worse when sitting, leg pain characterized as burning or tingling, weakness or difficulty moving the legs, feet, or toes, sharp pain making it difficult to move, and pain that radiates down the legs into the feet and toes are all symptoms that have been linked to sciatica.

Causes of Sciatic Nerve Pain

Sciatic pain symptoms are usually resulting from pinched nerves, and the pain can vary from infrequent and mildly irritating, to constant and immobilizing or incapacitating. According to Spine Health, “While symptoms can be painful and potentially debilitating, it is rare that permanent sciatic nerve damage (tissue damage) will result, and spinal cord involvement is possible but rare.”

Treating Sciatica

As aforementioned, sciatica is not a diagnosis for pain, rather is caused and characterized by underlying medical conditions. As such, treatment is focused on addressing the cause of the symptoms to address the subsequent pain, rather than just medicating the pain alone. Treatment is usually holistic and based in self-care, rest, and rehabilitation, but in some severe cases it is advisable to consider surgery. Consult a chiropractor or physical therapist for a treatment strategy.