The Lowdown on Low Back Pain
(and Other Aches)


What is sciatica?

Sciatica is another name for nerve pain in the leg. The most common cause of sciatica has nothing to do with the sciatic nerve. The pain is most commonly caused by an injury in the low back. A bulging or herniated disc can push on (or pinch) one of the spinal nerve roots. This, in turn, causes pain to shoot down the leg in the same distribution as the nerve root. For example, damage at the lowest level causes pain in the small toes. This pain is treated with exercises, medications, and occasionally pain blocks. Surgery is rarely needed.



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Last modified: 07/27/08