What Is It?
Sciatica is a word that is commonly misused to diagnosed low back pain. The sciatic nerve is simply a large neve that moves from the low back into the back of the leg and stops just above the knee before it splits, so it wouldn’t make sense to call something “sciatica” if the symptoms are in the foot.
Basically what people mean when they say sciatica, is a “nerve impingement”.
Lumbar radiculopathy is due to impingement of the nerve root exiting the cervical spine (AKA pinching of the nerves). This can occur by narrowing of the canal that the nerve extends out from (ie swelling, decreased disc height, bone spurs—AKA disc degeneration ) if >50 years, however those under <50 years it is more commonly due to a disc herniation as the disc height is better and the discs are more hydrated increasing its risk of being herniated.
When these nerves exit the spinal cord, they branch off into motor and sensory nerves (those that control our muscles and sensation). One or both of these nerve issues can be present. Most often, it is sensation changes as this nerve root closest to the disc. However, if muscle weakness is involved, this means that there may be more nerve impingement or irritation. Lumbar radiculopathy can sometimes be very painful and debilitating, however, it can be treated without surgery.