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Sciatica is a set of symptoms, including pain, that may be caused by general compression or irritation of one of five spinal nerve roots that give rise to each sciatic nerve, or by compression or irritation of the left or right or both sciatic nerves that run from the lower back down the back of each leg.

Sciatica is generally caused by the compression of lumbar nerves or sacral nerves, or by compression of the sciatic nerve itself.

The sciatic nerve controls muscles in the back of your knee and lower leg and provides feeling to the back of your thigh, part of your lower leg and the sole of your foot. When you have sciatica, you have pain, weakness, numbness or tingling. It can start in the lower back and extend down your leg to your calf, foot, or even your toes. It’s usually on only one side of your body.

Sciatica may also occur during pregnancy as a result of the weight of the fetus pressing on the sciatic nerve during sitting or during leg spasms.

Sciatica Symptoms

  • Sensation changes on the back of the calf or the sole of the foot
  • Numbness, tingling, burning, pain in back of calf or the sole of the foot
  • Weakness of the knee or foot
  • Difficulty walking
  • Inability to move the foot (in severe cases)
  • Inability to bend the knee  (in severe cases)