Nerves carry electrical signals from one part of the body to another. The longest and widest nerve in the body is the sciatic nerve. It runs from the top of the leg to the foot. This important nerve controls muscles in the back of the thigh, leg, and foot, as well as sensation.
Sciatica is caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. So what does sciatic nerve pain feel like? Sciatica causes pain that may vary. It can be very sharp and it may be mild or cause discomfort. Sciatica may cause numbness, weakness of the muscles, or tingling (pins and needles) along the nerve. It can be the cause of back pain and stiffness, and because the sciatic nerve is so long, sciatica pain can start in the lower back and go down your leg to your foot. Another symptom of sciatic nerve pain is that it usually radiates down only one side of the body, from the lower back into the leg. Sciatica symptoms are often more painful when coughing or when sitting, as it increases pressure on the lower back.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica can be caused by different conditions, and still many times no cause can be found. A common cause for sciatica is the spinal disc herniation, meaning that one of the discs located between the bones of the spine tears, and its inner material comes out and pinches or inflames the nearby sciatic nerve. Another cause may be a pinched nerve, caused when direct pressure or compression damages or injures a nerve. This is what happens in the case of spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal, through which the nerves pass, that may compress the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica. It also happens in the case of piriformis syndrome, a condition most likely caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerve injury is another cause, which in itself can be the result of surgery such as hip replacement, by medical procedures and even injections into the buttock when performed improperly.