Sciatica (leg pain)

Sciatica is a common form of neuralgia, characterized by pain traveling the length of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve, the longest in the human body, runs from the lower back through the pelvic region and down the back of the leg. It also often called a radiculopathy, meaning that an intervertebral disc is displaced and is presses against the radicular nerve root.

In most cases sciatica results from a combination of pressure and inflammation and can be treated within two weeks to a few months. In very severe cases, which involve sensory loss and muscle wasting in the leg, surgical decompression of the disk is required. Sciatica sometimes occurs during pregnancy when the sciatic nerve is pinched between the head of the fetus and the pelvic wall.

Treatments of sciatica will normally include:

Surgery, most often a microdiscectomy or lumbar laminectomy, is rarely recommended to patients who have objective evidence of a herniated disc, cauda equina syndrome, or if the pain is severe and not resolved after a reasonable course of non-surgical treatment.

The major causes of sciatica include: