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What is Sciatica?

Sciatica means "Spinal Nerve Pain". It is a symptom rather than a specific Disease. The most common reason for Sciatica is Nerve Compression of a Spinal Nerve inside the Spine, typically from a Disc Herniation (slipped disc).

While we typically feel Sciatica as a sharp pain in the leg, it can also be felt as low back pain, buttock pain, tingling, numbness and even weakness in the leg or foot. The specific symptoms often depend on how much irritation, inflammation, or compression of the Spinal Nerve exists. Spinal Nerves which are badly compressed by a large Disc Herniation (slipped disc) can cause significant numbness and weakness in the leg. Milder cases may only be felt as an occasional buttock or leg discomfort.

Lets take a look at the Nervous System on a Color X-Ray Image to learn about the Sciatic and Spinal Nerves. This Image shows you that Sciatica is a bit of a misnomer since not the entire Sciatic Nerve becomes inflamed and painful. Rather, typically only one Spinal Nerve is irritated and inflamed. This Spinal Nerve does become part of the Sciatic Nerve for a short distance, but then branches back out and travels to a specific part of the leg. This is why Sciatica usually only causes pain in one area of the leg, rather than the entire leg.

Approximately 90% of patients with Sciatica will get pain relief within 6 weeks, with or without treatment. However, Medications, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic care, Acupuncture, Spinal Injections and other non-surgical treatments can help with pain relief until the inflammation of the Spinal Nerve subsides.