Sciatica describes a pattern of pain, weakness, numbness or tingling that starts in the buttock and radiates down a leg. It is generally caused by injury to the sciatica nerve. Sciatica is often caused by herniated discs, muscle injuries, pelvic fractures or tumors.
Sciatica can vary in severity from mild to debilitating. Often, the pain worsens with sitting or standing, at night, coughing, or bending. A diagnosis of sciatica is made based on a patient's history, symptoms and physical exam. Diagnostic studies such as blood tests, x-rays or MRIs may be useful to determine the underlying cause of the sciatica. Treatment is based on the severity of symptoms and underlying cause. For some patients, no treatment is necessary. For others, conservative therapies such as heat or ice, pain medications, steroid injections or physical therapy may be recommended. If these options do not provide satisfactory relief, you may need to see a neurosurgeon to explore surgical treatment options for the underlying cause of your sciatica.