Sciatica or sciatic neuralgia is a commoncondition in which one of the spinal nerve roots of the sciatic nerve is compressed resultingin lower back, buttock and leg pain. Sciatic nerve is a large nerve derived from 5 spinalnerve roots: L4, L5, S1, S2 and S3. It runs from the lumbar spine through the buttockdown the leg and the foot on the posterior aspect. There is one sciatic nerve on eachside of the body. Typically, only one side of the body is affected.A typical sciatica pain is described as a sharp shooting pain in the lower back, downthe buttock, thigh and leg on one side of the body. There may also be numbness, burningand tingling sensations. The pain can get
worse with sitting, moving, sneezing, or coughing.The patterns of pain depend on which nerve root is compressed, and follow the dermatomedistribution. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniatedspinal disc. The spinal disc is a soft elastic cushion that sits in between the vertebraeof the spine. With age, the discs become rigid and may crack, the gellike center of thedisc may protrude out and become a herniation outside the normal boundaries of the disc.Disc herniation presses on the nerve root as it exits the spine.In majority of the cases the condition resolves by itself after a few weeks of rest and conservativetreatment. Pain relief, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory
drugs and muscle relaxants may be prescribed.Stretching exercises and physical therapy may be recommended.Surgery may be needed if the pain doesn’t go away after 3 months or more of conservativetreatments. The herniated disc may be removed in a procedure called discectomy. Or, in anotherprocedure called laminotomy, part of the bone of the vertebrae may be cut to make room forthe nerve.