Dear Leg Pain Investigator,
Sciatica is a well-known, if not infamous, condition often caused by a radiculopathy.
A what? Sounds radiculous, but let us explain: In the spine, a disc lives next to important structures (the spinal cord and spinal nerves). If a disc bulges or herniates, it can put pressure on and hurt these body parts. When a disc puts pressure on the beginning of a spinal nerve, called a radicle (from the Latin word for “root”), a radiculopathy (“disease of the radicle”) occurs.
The syndrome of sciatica can start when a radiculopathy happens to one or more of the five nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve. As the sciatic nerve provides sensation and motor control to the legs, a person with sciatica can feel numbness, weakness, or sharp, shooting, burning, or tingling sensations in these regions.