Sciatica: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 8/18/2020

Sciatica refers to pain that occurs along the distribution of the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. This nerve extends from nerve roots in the spinal cord in the low back through the buttock area down the lower limb.

Sciatica signs and symptoms include pain that occurs from the low back to behind the thigh and radiating down below the knee. Other associated symptoms can include

Cause of sciatica

The irritation of the sciatic nerve in sciatica is most often caused by a herniated disc in the lumbar spine that impinges on or pinches the nerve root. Infections and spinal stenosis due to bone spurs or tumors are less common causes.

Other sciatica symptoms and signs

  • Back Pain
  • Burning Sensation
  • Buttock Pain
  • Difficulty Walking
  • Foot Numbness
  • Hip Pain
  • Leg Numbness or a Pins and Needles Sensation
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Weakness

Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.