• Alternative Names

    Neuropathy - sciatic nerve; Sciatic nerve dysfunction


    Sciatica pain can vary widely. It may feel like a mild tingling, dull ache, or a burning sensation. In some cases, the pain is severe enough to make a person unable to move.

    The pain most often occurs on one side. Some people have sharp pain in one part of the leg or hip and numbness in other parts. The sensations may also be felt on the back of the calf or on the sole of the foot. The affected leg may feel weak.

    The pain often starts slowly. Sciatica pain may get worse:

    • After standing or sitting
    • At night
    • When sneezing, coughing, or laughing
    • When bending backwards or walking more than a few yards, especially if caused by spinal stenosis

    Signs and tests

    Sciatica might be revealed by a neuromuscular examination of the legs by a physician. There may be weakness of knee bending or foot movement, or difficulty bending the foot inward or down. Reflexes may be abnormal, with weak or absent ankle-jerk reflex. Pain down the leg can be reproduced by lifting the leg straight up off the examining table.

    Tests are guided by the suspected cause of the dysfunction, as suggested by the history, symptoms, and pattern of symptom development. They may include various blood tests, x-rays, MRIs, or other tests and procedures.