As the sciatic nerve can pose a painful problem for certain individuals, it is important to know where it is on the body. This will help for a quick and more accurate diagnosis. It makes it easier for the patients to present symptoms to their doctor when they can correctly identify the problem area. General areas are helpful, but precision is the key to a proper conclusion by the doctor, as well as quick treatment for the patient.
The sciatic nerve is one of the longest nerves in the human body. At its thickest point, it can measure the width of a thumb. This nerve starts at the back’s lumbar region and continues all the way down the back of the legs, ending at the toes. The sciatic nerve is made up of two different branches, one branch for each side of the spine. The nerve has root endings at several places in the spine, which include two endings in the bottom two vertebrae in the lumbar spine.
Taking a more specific look at the sciatic, it is actually made up of five nerves. It originates on the right and left side of the lower portion of the spine through the blending of the 4th and 5th nerves in the lumbar with three of the nerves found in the sacral spine. The nerves leave the spine by exiting among the vertebral segments. They are named according to the vertebral segments above it.
This means that the nerve exiting between lumbar segment four and lumbar segment five, also known as L4 and L5, is aptly called L4 nerve root. In the same vein, the nerve that leaves between the lumber segment five (L5) and the Sacral segment 1 known as the L5 nerve root. The S1, S2 and S3 are nerves that come from the sacral foramen.
These five nerves come together at the front of the piriformis muscle, or the rear. It is here that the nerves group up to become the one large nerve that is known as the sciatic. Once it is one large nerve, it begins to travel down both legs. As it goes down each leg, it branches out to service different parts of both the leg and the foot.
As the sciatic travels lower, it splits into two nerves. This happens in the lower thigh region or right above the knee. One nerve is called the tibial nerve and the other is the peroneal nerve. Each works in different parts of the leg. The tibial nerve goes further down and innervates the foot’s heel and sole. The peroneal nerve travels sideways. It goes on the outer knee and onto the upper part of the foot.
It is the sciatic nerve that gives the leg the power of both strength and sensation. It also allows it to enjoy reflexive capabilities. This nerve also works to connect different parts of the leg. It connects the outer thigh, lower feet and leg muscles, and hamstrings with the spinal cord.
Written By: Updated: July 20,2011