Degenerative Spine Conditions: Potential Causes of Sciatica

As the body ages, the spine can be affected by several degenerative conditions that may also be causes of sciatica. Sciatica is a collection of symptoms rather than a condition itself, and these symptoms can show up as anything from shooting pain running down the lower back and buttocks to the inability to properly lift a foot while walking (foot drop). The underlying cause of these problems is the impingement of the sciatic nerve, the body’s longest nerve.

Degenerative disc disease and sciatica

What does getting older have to do with pinching the nerve? Degenerative conditions, like the slow deterioration of the intervertebral discs, the slippage of the vertebrae and others can narrow the space through which the sciatic nerve passes.

One of the degenerative spine conditions that can contribute to sciatica is degenerative disc disease, or DDD. It should be noted that DDD isn’t actually a disease, but rather a catch-all term to describe the effects of aging on the flexible discs that cushion the vertebrae. Getting older is closely associated with the loss of water within these discs, which reduces disc space and can make them more brittle. When discs are less flexible, they are more likely to bulge or rupture when they are taxed. When such deterioration occurs in the lower back, it can lead to the disc or its contents impinging on the sciatic nerve.

Additional age-related spine conditions

Other related degenerative spine conditions include:

  • Bone spur growth
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Degenerative scoliosis

All of these conditions can move the components of the spine out of normal alignment, potentially causing impingement of surrounding nerves.

Looking into treatment options

If you have been diagnosed with one of the degenerative spine conditions that can lead to sciatica and conservative treatments haven’t alleviated your symptoms, you may want to investigate your surgical options. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to find out about our minimally invasive spine surgeries and how they may able to relieve your symptoms.

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