Sciatic pain, also known as sciatica, is the inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs from the spinal cord down the legs, and inflammation usually causes pain and tenderness through the leg.
Sciatic pain is usually caused by a herniated or ruptured intervertebral disc. The disc can press on to nerve roots, causing them irritation. Piriformis syndrome can also cause irritation to the nerve, since the piriformis muscle passes over the sciatic nerve when stretched and therefore pinches it. However, a bulging disc is the most common, but often most painful cause of sciatica. While the disc is located in the spinal cord, the pain shoots down the leg and into the foot. The pain can be brought on at any time and by any sort of movement. It can also cause a feeling of numbness and weakness. Sciatic pain usually only affects one side of the body.
The most common treatment prescribed for sciatica is rest, which allows the inflammation of the nerve to calm down. Muscle relaxants and anesthesia are used for moderate conditions. However, when pain does not respond to these treatments, new techniques like microsurgery are used. Exercise can also help treat and prevent sciatic pain.