Sciatica is not a disease or a condition, but rather a symptom of some other underlying problem. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body and, when damaged or compressed, can lead to sciatica. The main symptom of the condition is a sharp, shooting pain anywhere along the nerve, which runs from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the back of either the right or left leg. People with sciatica may also experience a pins and needles sensation in the feet and toes.
A bulging or herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica. Discs are spongy material found in between each vertebra. When a disc bulges or herniates, that spongy material protrudes backward and can irritate or even compress the nerve root. This compression and irritation cause sciatica. While most cases can and do improve on their own in time, many disc herniations can require surgery to alleviate the pain and risk of further damage.
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