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Sciatica Causes and Treatment

Updated on January 25, 2010

Sciatica is caused by the pinching of a nerve as it emerges from the spinal cord and passes between two vertebrae low in your back. The pain is not always felt at the point of pinching, but where the nerve runs. The nerve pinching may be caused by arthritis, ligament strains or disc damage in the back. In some cases, more sinister diseases may be the cause of sciatica. The sciatic nerve is made up of many spinal nerves that join together in the middle of your buttock, at a point where the pain of sciatica is often first felt. The nerve then runs down the back of your thigh and calf, giving off branch nerves to supply the muscles and other structures of the leg. Some unlucky victims feel the shooting pains associated with sciatica all the way from the back to the foot.

Investigation of sciatica will involve careful examination of your back by a doctor, and having X-rays taken to determine why the nerve is being pinched. Most patients can be helped by adequate treatment in the form of anti-inflammatory medications, physiotherapy, and occasionally surgery.

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