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What causes sciatica?

Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which can be accompanied by numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness and soreness. The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in the body, that extends from the nerve roots in the lumbar spine at the lower back and branches out into hips, buttocks, and legs. Typically, sciatica affects just one side of your body.

Sciatica pain may occur when the sciatic nerve is irritated or inflamed, and is most commonly caused by herniated discs, late-stage osteoarthritis, or the narrowing of the spine. Potential risk factors for developing sciatica also include aging, diabetes, excess weight, and physically demanding jobs.

While mild sciatica usually subsides over time, some self-care measures that may bring relief include ice and heat packs, gentle exercise and stretches, and over-the-counter pain medication. Sometimes, sciatica can be serious, so be sure to contact your doctor if your pain is severe, becomes progressively worse, or if you experience loss of bowel and/or bladder function.

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