Sciatica is usually caused by a ruptured or herniated disc pressing on a nerve root, although there are other causes, such as degeneration of the sciatic nerve root. Symptoms include a shock-like or burning lower back pain, with pain through the buttocks and down one leg to below the knee. Treatment options depend on what is causing the pain and how long it has been present.
What Is Sciatica?Sciatica is a condition in which a herniated or ruptured disc presses on the sciatic nerve, which is the large nerve that extends down the spinal column to its exit point in the pelvis and carries nerve fibers to the leg.
Symptoms of Sciatica
The compression that is produced by sciatica causes shock-like or burning lower back pain combined with pain through the buttocks and down one leg to below the knee, occasionally reaching the foot. In the most extreme cases, when the nerve is pinched between the disc and an adjacent bone, the symptoms involve numbness and some loss of motor control over the leg due to interruption of nerve signaling.
(Click Sciatica Symptoms for more information.)
What Causes It?
Sciatica is usually caused by a ruptured or herniated disc that is pressing on a nerve root. It may also be caused by:
- A tumor
- A cyst
- Metastatic disease
- Degeneration of the sciatic nerve root.
(Click Sciatica Causes for more information.)
Sciatica and Smoking
Although smoking may not directly cause back pain, it can increase a person's risk of developing lower back pain, both with and without sciatica.