Sciatica is a pain associated with your sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a combination of nerves that originate in your low back including the L3, L4, L5 and sacral vertebras. They come together to form the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs down the back of the legs, buttocks and even into the lower leg, calf and foot. Sciatica is characterized by pain that originates in the low back or buttocks that travels into one or both legs. Pain is often characterized by a sharp, shooting pain down the legs, a "toothache-like" pain, or pins and needles. Sciatica is generally caused by sciatic nerve compression. Disorders known to cause sciatic nerve pain include lumbar spine subluxations (misaligned vertebrae), herniated or bulging discs (slipped discs), pregnancy and childbirth, tumors, and non-spinal disorders such as diabetes, constipation, or sitting on one's back pocket wallet.
One common cause of sciatica is Piriformis Syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle is located in the lower part of the spine, connects to the thighbone, and assists in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. This muscle is susceptible to injury from a slip and fall, hip arthritis, or a difference in leg length. Such situations can cause cramping and spasm to develop in the piriformis muscle, thereby pinching the sciatic nerve and causing inflammation and pain. Sciatic nerve compression may result in the loss of feeling or numbness and tingling, paralysis of a single limb or group of muscles, and loss of sleep due to symptoms.