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Sciatica: Introduction

Sciatica is a common group of symptoms that occur when the sciatic nerve is compressed, injured, and/or inflamed. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and branches out from the spinal cord in the lower back through both buttocks and legs. The sciatic nerve and its branches are responsible for movement and feeling in the legs and feet.

Compression, injury or inflammation of the sciatic nerve results in symptoms that typically include intense pain anywhere along the nerve path through the legs and feet. Weakness and numbness can also occur. Sciatica may also result in complications. For additional symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of sciatica.

Sciatica frequently occurs due to a bulging or herniated disc in the spine, which can pinch the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can also occur due to trauma to the spine, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, pregnancy, or rarely, a spinal tumor.

Sciatica is often diagnosed and treated by a spine specialist or a chiropractor. Making a diagnosis of sciatica begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms. A physical and neurological examination that focuses on the back and lower extremities is also done and includes an assessment of range of motion of the back and legs. A neurological exam is performed to evaluate the muscles, nerves and nervous system and such functions as reflexes, sensation and pain, movement, balance, and coordination.

Diagnostic testing may include special tests that test the nerves and muscles. These include an electromyogram (EMG), which tests the nerve and electrical activity of muscles, and a nerve conduction velocity test, which identifies how fast nerves conduct electrical impulses. Medical testing may also include tests that can help determine any underlying medical disease or conditions that may be causing sciatica. These include imaging tests that create a picture of the spine, such as spinal X-ray, CT and/or MRI.

It is possible that a diagnosis of sciatica can be missed or delayed because symptoms may be mild or similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions. For more information about diseases and disorders that can mimic sciatica, refer to misdiagnosis of sciatica.

Treatment for sciatica varies depending on the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and the type of work and activities a person does. Treatment can reduce or eliminate symptoms and complications. Treatment options include chiropractic therapy, physical therapy, exercises, medication, alternative therapies, and possibly surgery. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of sciatica....more »

Sciatica: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of sciatica may be delayed or missed because symptoms, such as leg weakness, pain and tingling may be mild, develop slowly, and can differ greatly from person to person. In addition, symptoms of sciatica can be similar to or accompany symptoms of other conditions and diseases. These include herniated disc, spinal stenosis, degenerative ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Sciatica:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Sciatica. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Sciatica: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Common Causes of Sciatica

Home Diagnostic Testing and Sciatica

Home medical tests possibly related to Sciatica:

Causes of Types of Sciatica:

Review causes of types of Sciatica in more specific categories:

Review causes of more specific types of Sciatica:

Sciatica: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Sciatica, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

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Sciatica Treatments

With early recognition and treatment, in many cases it is possible to reverse the symptoms of sciatica. The most successful treatment and prevention plans use a multipronged approach individualized to the underlying cause, the severity of symptoms, a person's medical history, general health and other factors.

The first step in treatment is prevention. ...Sciatica Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Sciatica may include:

Review further information on Sciatica Treatments.

Alternative Treatments for Sciatica

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Sciatica may include:

Stories from Users for Sciatica

Real-life user stories relating to Sciatica:

Sciatica: Animations

Sciatica: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Sciatica may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Sciatica

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Sciatica:

Sciatica: Deaths

Read more about causes and Sciatica deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Sciatica

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, there are also various other causes. See more »

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see more »

Sciatica: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Sciatica: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Article Excerpts about Sciatica

Sciatica is a painful condition caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve, the main nerve that branches off the spinal cord and continues down into the thighs, legs, ankles, and feet. Sciatica is characterized by pain in the buttocks and can be caused by a number of factors. Exertion, obesity, and poor posture can all cause pressure on the sciatic nerve. One common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc (see Spine Basics in the Appendix). (Source: excerpt from Pain -- Hope Through Research: NINDS)

Sciatica is a painful condition caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve, the main... (Source: excerpt from Pain -- Hope Through Research: NINDS)

Definitions of Sciatica:

Neuralgia along the sciatic nerve
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Syndrome characterized by pain radiating from the back into the buttock and into the lower extremity along its posterior or lateral aspect, and most commonly caused by protrusion of a low lumbar intervertebral disk; also used to refer to pain anywhere along the course of the sciatic nerve.
- (Source - CRISP)

Detailed list of causes of Sciatica

The list below shows some of the causes of Sciatica mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Sciatica?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Sciatica. Of the 30 causes of Sciatica that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 3 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 2 causes are "common" diseases
  • 2 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 2 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 25 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Sciatica:

The following list of conditions have 'Sciatica' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Sciatica or choose View All.

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Classifications of Sciatica:

Medical Conditions associated with Sciatica:

Lower back pain (89 causes), Back symptoms (1093 causes), Nerve symptoms (9132 causes), Neurological symptoms (9575 causes), Pain (6458 causes), Back pain (479 causes), Sensations (6520 causes), Brain symptoms (2787 causes), Sensory symptoms (7134 causes), Common symptoms (8589 causes), Body symptoms (5672 causes), Swelling symptoms (3730 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes)

Symptoms related to Sciatica:

Alcoholism, Spinal abscess, Poor posture, Pressure on the spinal junction of the sciatic nerve, Twisting back, Herniated disc, Spinal tumor, Pressure on the sciatic nerve, Exertion

Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

These general medical articles may be of interest:

Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Sciatica:

More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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