Introduction: Sciatica & Piriformis Syndrome


“Sciatica is a symptom defined as… leg pain with a sharp, shooting or burning quality… down the posterior lateral aspect of the leg, and normally radiating to the foot or ankle.” (National Center for Biotechnology Information)

Terminology Differences

  • Some clinicians use the term “sciatica” in reference only to sciatic pain originating from a particular cause. Others use the term for sciatic pain of any cause.
  • Here we use the term in its common use, referring to sciatic pain in general.

Sciatic Nerves

  • The sciatic nerves—one for each leg—are the longest nerves in the body.
  • The nerves originate in the lumbar and sacral vertebrae, pass between buttock muscles, down backs of thighs, through outer edges of legs to feet.


  • Sciatica is somewhat common during pregnancy.
  • In the U.S., 5% of adults suffer from sciatica and individuals have a 40% probability of experiencing it in their lifetime. (Doug Keller)

More About Nerve Compression

A number of conditions can cause sciatica, but it commonly comes from nerve compression in the low back… The nerve roots that exit the spine to create the sciatic nerve are very sensitive and can easily be irritated by a herniated disc. Dr. Hochschuler says when this happens, pain radiates to the rear and back of the thigh and calf. This can occasionally go all the way down to the foot causing numbness, tingling and/or a burning or prickling sensation.. – Jacqueline Buchanan