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Sciatica is pain in the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. Sciatica occurs when the nerve becomes injured or pressure is applied. The pain level varies from a leg cramp to a shooting pain that makes standing or sitting very difficult. Patients may also experience numbness or a tingling sensation through the leg. Conditions that can cause sciatica include a herniated disk, narrowing of the spinal cord (spinal stenosis) and spasms of the piriformis muscle located in the buttocks.