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The largest nerve in the human body may be responsible for one of the most common causes of leg pain. The sciatic nerve connects the spinal cord with the leg and foot muscles, and runs down both sides of the lumbar spine, through the buttock and back of the thigh, and down to the foot.
Many kinds of leg pain can be traced to problems with the sciatic nerve. Sciatica pain occurs when one or more of the spinal nerves become compressed. A disc herniation is often the culprit. Other causes include spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, and arthritis.
While the pain typically travels down, or radiates, along the sciatic nerve, it is often felt in the lower buttocks, the back of the leg, and even the bottom of the foot. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and/or a burning or prickling sensation.
It is very important that you seek medical attention if you experience these kinds of symptoms, because long-term compression of the sciatic nerve can cause permanent damage. In addition, untreated sciatica nerve damage can cause such problems as loss of bladder and bowel control.