Sciatica (Sciatic Neuralgia)
Sciatica refers to pain that radiates into the leg. This presentation is often accompanied by low back pain or discomfort, which can be more or less severe than the leg pain. The term "sciatica" refers to the sciatic nerve, which courses from the low back through the buttocks and into the leg. One of the most common causes for sciatica is a condition that that occurs when a herniated lumbar disc directly or indirectly compromises one or more spinal nerve roots that join to make the sciatic nerve. Less commonly the sciatic nerve may be directly compromised outside of the spine. Back and leg pain can occur in the absence of spinal nerve root or sciatic nerve compromise. Various activities such as sports recreational endeavors and heavy labor can cause back and leg pain, which may masquerade as sciatica. One of the diagnostic challenges is to differentiate radiating nerve root pain (radiculopathy) from musculoskeletal sprain or strain.
Sciatica (sciatic neuralgia) is clinically characterized by posterior thigh, lower leg or foot pain of a radiating nature. There may be other sensory symptoms such as numbness or tingling. The leg pain is usually worse than the low back pain. The individual with sciatica may experience moderate to severe pain, which extends through the buttock region and into to the leg/foot.