A term that has been misused often in the medical industry. Any back pain is usually considered sciatica, but that may not be the case.

Sciatica is a syndrome characterized by pain radiating from the back into the posterior (back) aspect of the lower leg. (Fig. 2) Sciatica is most commonly caused by a protrusion of a lower lumbar disc which causes compression of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica may also be caused by a nerve entrapment somewhere down the affected leg such as piriformis syndrome. (Fig. 1)

Risk factors may include diabetes, osteoarthritis, prior back injuries, or tumor. Symptoms may include pain, tingling, and/or numbness in the back of the leg and into the big toe. It can be self-resolving. Chiropractic has been shown to help sciatica.

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