No, sciatica is not the thing Al Pacino yells in Dog Day Afternoon. Sciatica refers to pain that branches down your lower back, through your buttocks, hips and legs. It is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve that compresses the nerve and causes acute pain. The pressure comes from either a herniated disk or a bone spur along the spine. In most cases, sciatica only affects one side of the body at a time. Luckily, sciatica is something that is treated without surgical intervention, but there are some severe occasions where surgery is needed.
The telltale sciatica symptom is pain that starts in your lower back (the lumbar spine) that spreads down your hip to your butt cheek, and down the back of your leg. The pain ranges from a fairly dull ache to a sharp pain, and typically only affects one side of your body. Other symptoms include numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the affected leg and foot. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor right away. Back pain can pretty severely impact your quality of life, so it’s important to have sciatica looked at right away.