ZocdocAnswersWhat causes sciatica?

Question

What causes sciatica?

I frequently have severe pain in my butt or hip when I stand or sit in one position for too long. The other problem I have is that my leg goes numb or starts tingling like it fell asleep. Sometimes exercise helps relieve the pain. My brother says that I have sciatica. I would like to know more about this medical condition, such as what causes it and what treatment is needed to correct the problem.

Answer

Sciatica is a very common medical condition that involves pain shooting down the back of the leg or buttock. It is often associated with back pain. While being very common, it is also very debilitating. Fortunately there are good treatment for this. Start by seeing your primary doctor. He or she can refer you to a back specialist if need be. Sciatica refers to the medical condition where pain or numbness occurs on the back of the leg. The cause of this pain is pinching of the nerves as they exit the spine. As you may know, the brain is connected to the spinal cord, which runs down the back and carries the nerves that feed the body. At each level of the spine (the vertebrae), nerves exit the spine through little holes in the body. As we age, wear and tear on the spine bones eventually causes compression of the nerves as they exit the spine. A common area of weak and tear is the lower back, which is wear the nerves that feed the leg exit the spine. As such, these nerves are injured and cause leg pain. Treatments include physical therapy, pain pills and occasionally pain shots. Rarely, surgery can also help. Please talk to your doctor for more information.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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