Sciatica - nervous systemSciatica is a condition caused by the sciatic nerves in the body becoming inflamed. The sciatic nerves begin from your lower spine and continue down the buttock area, back of the leg, and into the foot. Symptoms can range from a light tingling feeling, burning sensation to a full blown shooting pain radiating from your lower back, buttock area or leg. Sciatica usually affects only one side, although it is possible to also run down both legs.

There are several reasons why sciatica occurs. Sometimes the nerve in the lower spine can become pinched or a disk might be slipped. Arthritis or a sprained ligament will narrow the nerves' passageways causing the nerve endings to become tender and sore.

Most cases of sciatica can be effectively treated by physical therapy or massage therapy and appropriate changes in behavior and environment (for example cushioning, chair and desk height, exercise, stretching). Other conservative treatment options include anti-inflammatory medications (i.e. NSAIDs or oral steroids), pain medications, and epidural steroid injections (however the latter carries the risk of possible side effects and complications from the needle puncture and medications used). "Alternative" and "complementary" treatments include chiropractic manipulation (although there is no scientific consensus for chiropractic's effectiveness) and somatics. Acupuncture has no effect beyond placebo in treating sciatica.

Surgery may be done to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. This is performed in emergency situations or if conservative treatments fail. Common surgical procedures are microdiskectomy and lumbar laminectomy.