Sciatica overview

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Sciatica is pain caused by general compression and/or irritation of one of five nerve roots that are branches of the sciatic nerve. The pain is felt in the lower back, buttock, and/or various parts of the leg and foot. In addition to pain, which is sometimes severe, there may be numbness, muscular weakness, and difficulty in moving or controlling the leg. Typically, the symptoms are only felt on one side of the body.

Although sciatica is a relatively common form of low back pain and leg pain, the true meaning of the term often is misunderstood. Sciatica is a set of symptoms rather than a diagnosis for what is irritating the root of the nerve, causing the pain. This point is important, because treatment for sciatica or sciatic symptoms often will be different, depending upon the underlying cause of the symptoms.

The first cited use of the word "sciatica" was registered in 1450.[1]

References

  1. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Ed. "a1450a Mankind (Brandl)."




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