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Sciatica

Picture of the sciatic nerve and its location in the body

Illustration copyright 2000 by Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.nucleusinc.com

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, formed by nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord in the lower back. The nerve goes down through the buttock, then its branches extend down the back of the leg to the ankle and foot.

A herniated disc may compress one or more of the nerve roots that form the sciatic nerve. Pressure on one of these nerve roots will often produce distinctive symptoms of sciatica, such as pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the affected leg.

Although a herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica, sciatica can also be a symptom of other problems, such as narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis), nerve root compression resulting from injury, and certain rare tumors.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last Revised March 12, 2012

Last Revised: March 12, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

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