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What is sciatica?

Gerald M. Silverman
Chiropractic Medicine
The most common example of radiating pain (pain that travels along the entire course of a nerve, with a constant aching, burning, numbing, and eventual weakness in the affected arm or leg) is the unremitting leg pain called sciatica. One or more branches of the large sciatic nerve that run from the spinal column down into your toes is either irritated or compressed by joint inflammation, bone spurs, or a disc herniation. The nerve impingement is felt throughout the course of the nerve, all the way down to its end. The pain is generally severe and unrelenting, and if it is true sciatica pain, it can occur without any back pain at all.
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Sciatica is a set of symptoms, such as persistent pain, felt along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back, down through the buttock, and into the lower leg. The sciatic nerve, the longest and widest nerve in the body, controls the muscles of the lower leg and provides sensations to the thighs, legs and the soles of the feet.

The most common symptom associated with sciatica is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, from the lower back and down one leg; however, symptoms can vary widely depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected. Some people with sciatica may experience a mild tingling, a dull ache, or even a burning sensation, typically on one side of the body.

Sciatica occurs most frequently in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. It tends to develop as a result of general wear and tear on the structures of the lower spine, but occasionally can be the result of injury.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Sciatica is pain that occurs along the sciatic nerve, due to pressure on the nerve root. It is commonly caused by a herniated or slipped disk. Watch to learn more about sciatica.


Sciatica refers to the pain and other symptoms that result from a sciatic nerve problem. Your sciatic nerve extends from your lower back down the back of each of your legs. Although sciatica is typically the result of a herniated disk, there are several other possible causes. Sciatica typically occurs only on one side of your body.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.