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Definition of Sciatica

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Sciatica: Pain that results from irritation of the sciatic nerve and typically radiates from the buttock to the back of the thigh. Although sciatica can result from a herniated disc pressing directly on the nerve, any cause of irritation or inflammation of this nerve can reproduce the painful symptoms of sciatica. Diagnosis is made via observation of symptoms, physical examination and nerve tests, and sometimes X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), if a herniated disk is suspected. Treatment options include avoiding movements that further irritate the condition, use of medication, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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