Sciatic nerve location

Many people will experience the uncomfortable sensations of sciatica in their lifetime. Sciatica symptoms are often radicular, meaning they follow the course of the nerve. “Radix” is Latin for “root,” and the suffix “-pathy” is derived from the Greek “pathos,” meaning “disease.” Radiculopathy, therefore, describes sciatica pain, since it begins with a damaged or compressed nerve. Sciatica can cause burning pain that extends through the buttocks and into the thighs. At times, sciatica can also cause weakness, numbness or tingling in the back, legs and feet.

The sciatic nerve

The sciatic nerve begins in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine, specifically at the L4 and L5 levels. The nerve exits the spinal canal through two openings in the sacral (pelvic) spine, extending through the length of the legs. The sciatic nerve is the widest nerve of all the millions in the body, and it is also the longest nerve, which means it innervates more areas than any other nerve.

Since the sciatic nerve begins in the lower back, but travels all the way to the toes, sciatic nerve pain can extend to the following areas:

  • Buttocks
  • Hip joints
  • Thighs
  • Knees
  • Calves
  • Feet
  • Toes

In addition, the sciatic nerve is especially vulnerable to compression because the lumbar spine supports nearly half of the body’s weight; its intervertebral discs are very flexible relative to the rest of the spine; and the lower back is involved in so many flexion, extension and twisting movements.

Treatment for sciatic pain

If you are having pain due to sciatica, your doctor will most likely suggest that you begin a course of nonsurgical treatment. Conservative treatment recommendations for sciatica include:

  • Rest
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Low-impact exercise
  • Light weight training to improve core strength
  • Behavior modification to improve posture and cut down on painful activities
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Use of hot or cold therapies

In addition, stretching, yoga and acupuncture may also provide relief.

Find sciatica pain relief

If you are still experiencing sciatic pain and discomfort after three to six months of conservative treatment, your doctor may recommend surgery. If this is the case, we invite you to learn about minimally invasive decompression procedures available at Laser Spine Institute. Minimally invasive spine surgery is an outpatient procedure that uses a small incision. Call a Spine Care Consultant today to see if you are a candidate for surgery.

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