Sciatica is a painful condition in which the sciatic nerve becomes inflamed or entrapped. The sciatic nerve is a the largest peripheral nerve in the human body. It is comprised of three nerve roots: L3-L4-L5 which combine together shortly after exiting the spine to form the sciatic nerve. Degenerative changes in the spine (arthritis), herniated intervertebral disks, and spondylolisthesis (instability in the spine) can all lead to inflammation and compression of the sciatic nerve. Common symptoms of sciatica are lower back or buttock pain that radiates down the back of the leg to the calf or foot.
The diagnosis of sciatica is usually made clinically but imaging studies may be necessary in select cases. Our physician will perform a careful history and physical exam to determine if sciatica may be the cause of your pain.
Treatment is focused at relieving pain and inflammation in the affected area. While most people will make a full recovery with medications and behavioral modification, some patients may need referral to a pain management specialist to further treat the condition. Few cases require surgery unless symptoms become chronic and do not respond to conservative therapy.