The sciatic nerve is a long nerve that runs from your spinal cord to your buttock and hip area and down the back of each leg. The term "sciatica" refers to pain that radiates along the path of this nerve. This nerve controls many of the muscles in your lower legs and provides feeling to your thighs, legs and feet. Sciatica frequently occurs when a nerve root is compressed in your lower (lumbar) spine — often as a result of a herniated disc in your lower back.
The pain can vary in degree, from a mild ache to a sharp burning sensation. Symptoms can also include: radiating pain from your lower (lumbar) spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg, numbness and weakness in your leg or foot, tingling or pins and needles in your foot or toes.