What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is often a discomfort that is described as a radiating leg pain caused by irritation, inflammation or compression of the lumbosacral nerve roots (L4–S1) forming the sciatic nerve.

Patients can experience pain that can have a sudden or slow onset, and vary in severity sometimes causing constant, severe discomfort where a patient can struggle to get into a comfortable position. It is felt in the back or buttock and radiates down the leg below the knee into the foot and toes in the distribution of the sciatic nerve.

Symptoms can include:

It is often accompanied by tingling numbness, pins and needles and weakness or loss of muscle strength in the same leg. Patients may find it difficult to be in the seated or standing position and may cause immediate discomfort and sleeping can also be disrupted to. In some patients they may experience an intermittent pattern of discomfort whereby sitting or standing for particular length of time or driving one’s vehicle.

How common is it?

The incidence of sciatica is related to age, it is rarely seen in people under twenty years of age, but is prevalent in the fifth decade before declining.  It is estimated that about 5-10% with nonspecific low back pain also have sciatica.

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