Pain from sciatica occurs along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg, according to Mayo Clinic. Those with sciatica typically only experience pain on one side of their body.
Sciatica is the result of a herniated disk in the spinal column that pressed down on the roots of nerves in the lumbar spine, explains the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The pain caused by sciatica is similar to that experienced from a severe leg cramp. The pain often lasts for multiple weeks. Other symptoms of sciatica include weakness, numbness, and a burning or tingling sensation in the leg. Between 80 and 90 percent of persons suffering from sciatica heal naturally without surgery.