The pathophysiology of sciatica is not completely understood, although our understanding of its causes is increasing. Mechanical alterations combined with inflammatory changes lead to pain. Compression alters nerve root conduction and compromises the nutritional support of spinal nerve roots (through intrinsic and extrinsic vascularity and cerebral spinal fluid percolation). Mechanical forces can lead to intraneural damage and functional changes in nerve roots. Chemical and metabolic effects can create an inflammatory response. Varying causes of inflammation coupled with varying degrees of compression can occur anywhere along the cauda equina or spinal nerve root, including the dorsal root ganglia, and contribute to the pain response and neurologic deficits associated with sciatica.