Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve and is typically felt in the buttocks, down the back of the leg, and possibly to the foot. Sciatica is typically caused by common conditions including a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, and lumbar spinal stenosis.
Sciatica is a descriptive term rather than a diagnosis. The term sciatica is used because it describes the radiculopathy that occurs when one or more of the nerves that make up the large sciatic nerve are irritated or pinched. Most cases of sciatica will get better with time and conservative (nonsurgical) care. However, some sciatica symptoms such as progressive weakness, loss of leg sensation, and incontinence may indicate a potentially serious injury to the sciatic nerve and surgery may be warranted.