Learn about the causes and symptoms of a pinched sciatic nerve

A pinched sciatic nerve causes a group of extremely painful symptoms — known as sciatica — which can severely disrupt your life. The sciatic nerve is the largest in your body, running from the base of the spine down to the legs. Since this nerve is so large and sends information to so many parts of the body, it can have a wide range of symptoms if it is compressed.

Because these symptoms can sometimes be associated with other conditions, like muscular problems, it is important to know the exact causes and symptoms of a pinched sciatic nerve. Once the condition is properly diagnosed, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan to find the lasting pain relief you’re looking for.

Causes of a pinched sciatic nerve

A pinched nerve in the spine is usually the result of a degenerative spine condition, such as a herniated disc or a bone spur. These conditions are usually related to the natural aging process causing parts of the spine to break down because of natural wear from a lifetime of movement.

For example, over time a spinal disc can bulge or tear due to loss of elasticity combined with the stress of everyday movement. This means the outer layer of the disc can tear under pressure, allowing the liquid nucleus of the disc to protrude into the spinal canal.

Due to the very tight confines of the spinal column, disc material moving even a little bit out of place can compress a nerve. Sciatic nerve compression generally happens in the lower back, where the nerve originates. The following are some of the main conditions that can cause a pinched sciatic nerve:

  • Bone spurs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Bulging disc
  • Herniated disc
  • Facet disease
  • Spondylolisthesis, or vertebral slippage

Symptoms of a pinched sciatic nerve

Since the sciatic nerve is so large and travels through the entire lower body, the symptoms can be located in the hips, buttocks and both legs all the way down to the feet. It is common for sciatica to be located on one side of the body or the other, but in some cases it can be on both at once. Specific symptoms include:

  • Chronic burning pain
  • Weakness which interferes with walking and other movement
  • Numbness
  • Tingling

Treatment options

For many people, sciatica pain can diminish by following a doctor’s recommendation for conservative treatments like hot and cold compresses, rest and physical therapy. Always consult your doctor to develop a plan that is best for your specific situation and condition.

However, if you have been unable to experience relief from pain after weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery can start to become an option. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our minimally invasive outpatient surgery that has helped more than 75,000 people find relief from neck and back pain since 2005. We can treat the spine conditions that are the cause of sciatic nerve compression on an outpatient basis with our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures.

To find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, our caring team can help you receive a no-cost MRI review.*

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