Sciatica is a common type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, which is a large nerve that branches from the lower back through the hips and buttocks down the back of each leg. Sciatica is actually a sign that you have an underlying problem putting pressure on a nerve in your lower back.
Sciatica most commonly occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes irritated, usually by a herniated disk in the spine, by an overgrowth of bone (bone spur) compressing part of the nerve or by tight muscles in the buttock. This causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.
Sciatic pain often starts gradually and intensifies over time. It’s likely to be worse when you sit, cough or sneeze. The pain can vary widely, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating discomfort. For some people, the pain from sciatica can be severe and debilitating. For others, the sciatica pain might be infrequent and irritating, but has the potential to get worse.
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