Where Is the Sciatic Nerve?


Quick Answer

The sciatic nerve begins in the lower portion of the spine, traces through the buttocks and down each leg, according to MedlinePlus. This nerve controls muscles at the knee and in the lower leg. It is responsible for feeling in the foot, lower leg and back of the thigh.

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Full Answer

Sciatica is pain involving the sciatic nerve. It radiates from the back of the spine to anywhere along the length of the sciatic nerve, according to Mayo Clinic. Herniated discs or bone spurs pressing against the nerve are the most common causes of sciatica. In rare cases, a tumor presses against the nerve resulting in pain. While sciatica gets better with self-care in most cases, if the pain does not improve, the sufferer should see a doctor.

WebMD recommends sitting instead of standing when suffering sciatica. Alternating short walks with lying down seems to help alleviate most people's pain. Some find the use of heat or ice helps to reduce pain. If the pain becomes worse, doctors sometimes prescribe medication or physical therapy. Surgery is needed to correct the condition in some instances.

Alternative treatments, including acupuncture and chiropractic, are sometimes helpful, according to Mayo Clinic. Some studies concerning acupuncture indicate positive benefits, while others report no benefit for most patients. Studies concerning chiropractic show it as effective as other medical treatments for this issue.

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