Sciatica is low back pain combined with a pain through the buttock and down one leg. The leg pain usually goes past the knee and may go farther to the foot. Sometimes, weakness in the leg muscles occurs with sciatica.
The sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in the body and are about the size of your little finger. They come out of the spinal column low in the back and then go behind the hip joint, down the buttock, and down the back of the leg to the foot.
Sciatica is different from other forms of low back pain because while the pain most often begins in the back, it usually travels down one lower extremity.
The pain is usually a shooting pain, like electricity. It can also burn like fire or tingle much like the feeling when your leg goes to sleep. The pain can range from slightly annoying to totally unbearable. Some people have pain in one part of the leg and numbness in another part of the same leg.