What is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, running from the hips down to the knees. Nerve fibers in the sciatic nerve arise from the lumbar spine. Lumbosacral radiculopathy often causes pain that radiates down the back of the leg. This pain pattern is referred to as sciatica. Rarely, other conditions may cause pain radiating in the sciatic distribution, but the most common cause is radiculopathy (see Lumbar radiculopathy).

Who gets Sciatica?

Anyone can get sciatica. It typically affects people between the ages of 30 and 50.

How is Sciatica diagnosed?

After taking the patient's history, a physician may perform some tests to check muscle strength, reflexes and sensation. Other commonly used tests include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), and EMG.

How is Sciatica treated?

There are various treatments for sciatica, depending on the severity of the problem and the underlying cause. In many cases, sciatica will go away by itself. Physical therapy or special exercises can be used to help alleviate the pain. In more extreme cases surgery may be required.

More Information

Choosing Wisely: Five Things Patients Should Question  American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Cleveland Clinic

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