Q:

What is sciatic nerve pain?

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Quick Answer

Sciatic nerve pain is nerve pain that is caused by irritation of the largest nerve in the human body, the sciatic nerve, according to MedicineNet. Nerve pain radiating from the sciatic nerve is known as sciatica.

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Full Answer

The most common cause of sciatic nerve pain is a slipped or herniated disc that puts pressure on the nerve, notes Cleveland Clinic. It can also be caused by spinal stenosis, which involves narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerve. Spondylolisthesis, which is the slippage of a vertebrae, can also narrow the exit opening for the nerve, causing sciatic nerve pain.

Piriformis syndrome can also cause sciatic nerve pain, according to Cleveland Clinic. This condition develops when the piriformis muscle within the buttocks spasms or becomes tight and irritates the sciatic nerve.

Most cases of sciatic nerve pain go away after rest and the passage of time without any treatment, according to Cleveland Clinic. Up to 90 percent of people with sciatica do not require surgery, and around 50 percent recover within a 6-week period.

When treatment is required for sciatica, a combination of pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxers may be prescribed, advises Cleveland Clinic. Physical therapy and spinal injections may be needed, while cases of severe pain that do not respond to other treatments may require surgery to correct the condition causing the pain.

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