Sciatica is a painful condition caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in our bodies. It begins in the lower back and extends through the buttocks down the back of each leg to the thighs and feet.
Sciatica can be acute (short term) lasting a few weeks or chronic (long term) persisting for more than 3 months. It is important to understand that most sciatica will resolve itself within a few weeks or months and rarely causes permanent nerve damage.
Anyone can develop sciatica at some point in their lives; however, there are certain risk factors that may predispose you to develop sciatica. These include the following:
- Increased age
- Poor physical fitness or inactive lifestyle
- Occupational risks
- Poor nutrition
- Medical conditions such as diabetes or cancer that has metastasized to the spine can cause sciatica
It is important to know sciatica is a symptom but not a medical diagnosis. Some medical conditions that can cause sciatica include herniated discs, lumbar spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, diabetes, tumors, and trauma.