What is sciatica?

Did you know that the word ‘sciatica’, does not necessarily refer to a specific medical condition? Rather, it is an expression used to describe pain radiating down the leg. So where does the pain come from? The main places it could be originating from are the nerves in the low back called “lumbar nerve roots” or the sciatic nerve itself which is a peripheral nerve that lives below the back beginning in the buttock area.

So why is the term ‘sciatica’ misleading? Well, picture a long wire, like a power cord that’s plugged into your outlet. A lumbar nerve root problem is a problem at the plug. While a sciatic nerve problem is further down the cord. This means if someone says ‘sciatic’, they could be talking about either location.

Hope that helps, we at Northeast Spine & Sports Medicine would be happy to answer your questions at our four locations: Barnegat, Point Pleasant, and Jackson, NJ.