What is sciatica?

Updated: Aug 22, 2018
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Stephen A Berman, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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Sciatica describes leg pain that is localized in the distribution of one or more lumbosacral nerve roots, typically L4-S2, with or without neurological deficit. [17, 18] However, physicians often refer to leg pain from any lumbosacral segment as sciatica. When the dermatomal distribution is unclear, the descriptive phrase nonspecific radicular pattern " has been advocated. When initially evaluating a patient with lower back and leg pain, the physician must first determine that pain symptoms are consistent with common activity-related disorders of the spine resulting from the wear and tear of excessive biomechanical and gravitational loading that some traditionally describe as mechanical. [18, 26]

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