Sciatica commonly refers to pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve and is typically felt in the buttocks, down the back of the leg and possibly to the foot. Sciatica is one of the most common forms of pain caused by compression of the spinal nerves. Often the leg pain often feels much worse than the back pain. Numbness, tingling, and a burning or prickling sensation in the back and legs are also common symptoms.
Sciatica is actually a symptom and not disease. The term literally means that a patient has pain down the leg from compression on the sciatic nerve. Usually a herniated disc causes the sciatic pain. The diagnosis is what is causing the compression (such as a disc herniation).
Most cases of sciatica are caused by a simple irritation to the nerve and will get better with time. However, some sciatica symptoms may indicate a permanently injured nerve. This is particularly if true weakness or numbness is present in the back or the leg.