How is sciatica different from back pain?

Involves the nerve. Back pain is usually localized to the small of the back and can at times be relieved with heat and/or massage. Sciatica occurs when the nerve running down the leg is injured or irritated. It causes tingling, numbness and electrical shock type pain and discomfort which is usually not relieved with typical methods.
Symptom Vs Cause. Sciatica is the symptom of leg pain caused by a disc herniation or narrowing where the nerve exits the spine. A disc herniation is a outpouching of the disc from its normal place into the spinal canal or on the nerve and can be a source of pain in the back or down the leg, .
Back vs. Leg pain. Sciatica refers to pain that travels down the back of the leg. It often originates from a swollen, inflamed spinal nerve. Back pain may come from the spine but from a structure that does not radiate pain into the leg.

Related Questions

How different is sciatica pain from back pain?

Different symptoms. Back pain and sciatica may be related, or can occur independently. Sciatica describes the pain that radiates down the back of the thigh to the leg, most often due to a herniated disc in the low back compressing/irritating a nerve that contributes to the sciatic nerve. There are other causes of sciatica. There are also many different causes of back pain.
Location of the pain. Sciatica can have both back pain and leg pain, but the leg pain is usually equal or greater then the back pain. Sciatica usually starts in the back and shoots down the back of the leg to the foot with numbness in the two little toes and weakness walking tip toes.
Back causes Sciatica. Usually you start with Back pain from a herniated disk or other pathology in the spine which then results in pain down the leg which is known as sciatica. Many times they go hand in hand...