The sciatic nerve begins from the lower spine on either side. It travels deep in the pelvis to the lower buttocks. From there, it passes along the back of each upper leg and divides at the knee into branches that go to the feet. Sciatica is an irritation of the sciatic nerve.
Sciatic Nerve Pain
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Sciatica is caused by irritation or pressure on the sciatic nerve. This can be the result of:
- Herniated disk—the cushions between the bones of your spine bulge and press on the nerve as it exits the spinal column
- Arthritis in the lower back
- Spinal stenosis—narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar area
- Spondylolisthesis—slippage of a bone in the lower back
- Cauda equina syndrome—nerve roots at the base of the spinal cord are compressed
- Piriformis syndrome— spasm of piriformis muscle
Last reviewedNovember 2013by Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.