Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the leg that follows a common pattern radiating below the knee and into the foot and toes.
Sciatica is typically caused by an inflammatory response around the sciatic nerve from a disc bulge or herniation, which accounts for 80% of sciatica cases. Other causes of sciatica can include lumbar spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, direct trauma and piriformis syndrome. Obesity has also been shown to contribute to the development of not only general health conditions which may include degenerative disc disease.
The prognosis of sciatica is good in most patients, however up to 30% of patients will continue to have sciatic symptoms for 1 year or longer.
Nerve pain or neuropathic pain is caused by a condition affecting the nerves that carry sensation to the brain. This is a particular type of pain that feels different to other types of pain.
It often feels like shooting, stabbing or burning pain. Sometimes it can be as sharp and sudden as an electric shock. People with neuropathic pain are often very sensitive to touch or cold and can experience pain to stimuli that would not normally be painful, such as light touch or clothes rubbing on the skin.