What Does the Term Sciatica Mean?


Quick Answer

Sciatica is a general term used by doctors to discuss pain associated with the sciatic nerve. Sciatic pain typically presents in the lower rear or legs.

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Full Answer

The sciatic nerve is a very large nerve in the back of the body. It starts at the lower back and runs down each leg. This is why pain and discomfort associated with sciatica tends to be in the lower back, buttocks or back of either leg. Symptoms of sciatica are not limited to pain; other sensations include burning, tingling, and numbness. A shooting pain upon standing is also indicative of sciatica. Typically, this pain presents on only one side of the body, though it can affect both sides.

Sciatica can be caused by several different things, such as degenerative disc disease, pregnancy, lumbar spinal stenosis, or a condition called spondylolisthesis, where the vertebrae slip forward over each other. Lifestyle factors may also play a role in sciatic pain, such as wearing high heels, being overweight, and not exercising regularly. Treatment of sciatica is dependent on the causes. Back surgery to treat disc and spinal column problems may provide some relief. Often, pain management, exercise, and lifestyle changes such as weight loss offer the most help.

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