Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor specialist Home Care exercises pain warning signs Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

Sciatica Overview

What is sciatica?
A person with sciatica has pain, numbness, or weakness in the leg, caused by an irritated sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and runs down the back of the leg. The sciatic nerve may become inflamed due to a back injury or from direct pressure on the sciatic nerve. Conditions that may place direct pressure on the sciatic nerve include a herniated disk, vertebral compression fracture, or osteoarthritis in the spine. Sciatica occurs in about 1 out of 100 people who have low back pain.

What are the symptoms of sciatica?
Symptoms of sciatica include low back pain, leg pain, difficulty walking, leg numbness, leg weakness, foot numbness, or foot weakness.

How does the doctor treat sciatica?
Treatment for sciatica may include rest, cold compresses, warm compresses, stretching exercises, physical therapy, chiropractic care, narcotic pain medications, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Treatment for severe sciatica may include injections of corticosteroid medication into the back, or surgery.

Continue to Sciatica Incidence

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Sciatica References
  1. Barrett PH, Beck A, Schmid K, Fireman B, Brown JB. Treatment decisions about lumbar herniated disk in a shared decision-making program. Jt Comm J Qual Improv. 2002 May;28(5):211-9. [12053454]
  2. Humphreys SC, Eck JC. Clinical evaluation and treatment options for herniated lumbar disc. Am Fam Physician. 1999 Feb 1;59(3):575-82, 587-8. [10029785]
  3. Ito T, Takano Y, Yuasa N. Types of lumbar herniated disc and clinical course. Spine. 2001 Mar 15;26(6):648-51. [11246377]
  4. Spencer DL. The anatomical basis of sciatica secondary to herniated lumbar disc: a review. Neurol Res. 1999;21 Suppl 1:S33-6. [10214569]
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