It is a term given to any type of pain caused by inflammation of the sciatic nerve or the presence of pressure on it. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It is located at the beginning of the back of the pelvis, extends across the buttocks, and along the legs, until it ends under the feet.
Pain that begins in the lower spine (lower back) and runs down your butt and the back of your foot is a sure sign of sciatica. You may feel discomfort anywhere covering the nerve, and the most common feeling is pain from the lower back and buttocks to the back of the thigh and leg.
The types of pain vary and may range from a dull ache, a burning sensation, and severe or terrible pain. Sometimes you feel it as a shock or an electric wave. It gets worse when you cough or sneeze, and prolonged sitting causes its symptoms. Often only one side of your body is affected.
Some people may feel numbness and muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot. You may feel pain in one part of your leg and numbness in another.
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed, usually from a herniated disc in the spine or bone overgrowths (bone spurs) in your vertebrae. In rare cases, a nerve can be compressed by a tumor or damaged by a disease such as diabetes.
Although most people recover completely from sciatica, often without treatment, sciatica can cause permanent nerve damage. Seek immediate medical attention if you have:
Loss of sensation in the affected leg
Weakness in the affected leg
Loss of bowel or bladder function
It is not always possible to prevent sciatica, and the disease may recur. The following may play a major role in protecting your back:
Maintain proper posture when sitting
Use good body mechanics. If you stand for long periods, put one foot on a bench or small box from time to time
Treatment of lumbar disc herniation that results in severe and persistent pain in the leg and weakness in the lower extremities. Usually, a spine surgeon performs a microsurgical procedure to remove a portion of a herniated disc in order to decompress the sciatic nerve. To relieve pain, the bone that wraps around the spinal cord and that is pressing on the sciatic nerve is removed.