• Definition

    Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is caused by injury to or compression of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is a symptom of another medical problem, not a medical condition on its own.

    Alternative Names

    Neuropathy - sciatic nerve; Sciatic nerve dysfunction

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Sciatica occurs when there is pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the spine and runs down the back of each leg. This nerve controls the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg and provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot.

    Common causes of sciatica include:

    • Piriformis syndrome (a pain disorder involving the narrow piriformis muscle in the buttocks)
    • Slipped disk
    • Degenerative disk disease
    • Spinal stenosis
    • Pelvic injury or fracture
    • Tumors