Sciatica is a term used to describe nerve pain in the leg that is caused by irritation and/or compression of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica originates in the lower back, radiates deep into the buttock, and travels down the leg.
Sciatica is nerve pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down the buttock to the thigh and leg on one side. The pain may be accompanied by numbness and/or weakness. Watch: Sciatica Overview Video
Sciatica: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
What Does Sciatica Feel Like?
The symptoms of sciatica are commonly felt along the path of the large sciatic nerve. Sciatica is often characterized by one or more of the following features:
- Pain. Sciatica pain is typically felt like a constant burning sensation or a shooting pain starting in the lower back or buttock and radiating down the front or back of the thigh and leg and/or feet.
- Numbness. Sciatica pain may be accompanied by numbness in the back of the leg. Sometimes, tingling and/or weakness may also be present.
- One-sided symptoms. Sciatica typically affects one leg. The condition often results in a feeling of heaviness in the affected leg.1 Rarely, both legs may be affected together.
- Posture induced symptoms. Sciatica symptoms may feel worse while sitting, trying to stand up, bending the spine forward, twisting the spine, lying down, and/or while coughing. The symptoms may be relieved by walking or applying a heat pack over the rear pelvic region.
It is important to note that any type of lower back pain or radiating leg pain is not sciatica. Sciatica is specific to pain that originates from the sciatic nerve.1