sciatica anatomy

The sciatica nerve is the largest individual nerve in the human body; it moves from each side of the lower spine deep into the buttocks and back of the thighs, running down all the way to the feet. It plays a key role in connecting the spine to the muscles of the leg and the feet.

Any type of pain and/or neurological symptoms that are felt along the thorax nerve can be associated with sciatica.

There are two nerve roots coming out of the lumbar spine (L4 and L5) and three outputs of the sacral segment (S1, S2 and S3). All five nerves come together to form the sciatica nerve and then branch out again to the leg to deliver motor and sensory functions to certain destinations in the leg and foot.

How the sciatica nerve damaged

Sciatica is most often caused by some kind of compression of the spinal nerve in the lower back. The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy or radicular pain, indicating that the symptoms originate from the radical nerve in the spine.

The specific symptoms may vary depending on which nerve is affected and in which way it is compressed. A number of problems stemming from the lower back region can cause pain that spreads along sciatic nerve. The most common pain of sciatica is caused when the L5 or S1 (the nerve root) irritated by the herniated disc.

Nerves stemming from the spinal column are extremely sensitive and fragile, with the inner part of the disc containing proteins that can cause inflammation and are easily irritated. When this happens, pain penetrates into the back, part of the thighs and occasionally stretches to the foot. Numbness, tingling and/or the sensation of burning or stinging are also common symptoms of sciatica.

Common symptoms of sciatica nerve compression

The most common form of pain is felt in the leg and characterized by the following symptoms:

  • It occurs in one leg (not both)
  • Begins in the lower back and/or buttocks and extends down the thigh and stretches to the legs and/or feet
  • Usually it is experienced as a sharp pain
  • The words people often use to describe pain in the area of the sciatica nerve include; tingling, burning and sharp stabbing pain, which is usually worse when standing still and subsides when lying down or walking.

In addition to pain, other common symptoms include pressure, numbness, tingling or a prickling sensation that extends down the leg. It can present weakness of the legs and feet as well.

Sciatica is actually a symptom rather than a diagnosis. The term literally means that the patient has pain in the leg that is as a result of compression of the hyper dialysis nerve. Diagnosis is what causes compression (eg: hernia disks).

See what are the causes of the sciatica >