: : Sciatica Symptoms

Sciatica Symptoms

Sciatica symptoms are the result of irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The common symptoms are leg pain, numbness and weakness.

On this page, I will explore in more detail some of the symptoms often associated with a pinched sciatic nerve.

The Sciatic Nerve

The sciatic nerve emerges from the lower back (lumbar spine), goes into the buttock and down the leg. It is the widest and longest single nerve in the body.

The nerve supplies information to the brain regarding sensation of the whole leg. It also operates the muscles of the back of the thigh, lower leg and foot.

The symptoms experienced in sciatica are directly related to these roles that the sciatic nerve plays in the body.

Sciatica Symptoms


Pain is the main symptom associated with sciatica. Most people describe a deep ache that starts in the buttock and then shoots down the back of the leg, sometimes as far down as the foot.

The intensity of pain can range from a mild ache to extreme, debilitating pain.

People often find that their pain can change according to different body positions. For example, if they sit or stand for too long, their pain can get worse. Also, standing up from being seated in a low chair can often aggravate the pain.

Although most cases of sciatica are caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve in the back, back pain is not always experienced with sciatica.


Numbness and pins-and-needles often accompanies the pain for many people who suffer from sciatica.

The numbness and/or pins-and-needles can be felt anywhere in the leg or foot and can also be affected by different body positions.

Muscle Weakness

As mentioned above, the sciatic nerve controls the muscles in the back of the thigh, lower leg and foot. If the nerve is compressed or inflamed enough, it can start to cause weakness in these muscles.

Muscle weakness that progressively gets worse can be a sign that there is severe nerve compression. If you are experiencing increasing muscle weakness in the leg or foot, please seek urgent medical attention.

Other Symptoms

Along with symptoms mentioned above, people with sciatica can also experience a burning sensation and/or cramping of muscles in the leg or foot.

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This article was last reviewed and updated January 2014

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Causes of Sciatica

Sciatica Treatment


: : Sciatica Symptoms

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