A pinched nerve or sciatica is characterized by pain down the leg and can continue below the knee. Sciatica pain can be caused by a disc herniation or a slipped disc.
Tingling, numbness, or pain in the buttocks and thigh is often misdiagnosed as sciatica. The sciatic nerve originates from a group of nerves in the lumbar spine that pass through the buttock, down the back of the thigh (between the hamstrings), and down the back of the leg to the foot.
The sciatic nerve gets “pinched” or compressed from direct pressure such as sitting on your buttocks and thighs for prolonged periods, or it can occur from overstretching your hamstrings in the gym.
Once injury to sciatic nerve occurs, it loses its blood supply (ischemia) and leads to a hypoxic state. Fibrosis sets in (scar tissue) around the injured area, preventing the normal sliding of the nerve between the muscles (like cars passing through a tunnel).
These common nerve entrapment sites occur in the deep lateral rotators of the spine (piriformis), thigh (hamstrings), and leg (calf muscles). Sciatica pain is usually worse in the morning and after prolonged sitting. Bending with twisting and coughing can also trigger sciatica pain.