Degenerative spine conditions: potential causes of sciatica

As the body ages, the spine can be affected by several degenerative conditions that, among other issues, potentially cause sciatica. Sciatica is a collection of symptoms including shooting pain running down the lower back and buttocks, to tingling, numbness, muscle weakness and mobility problems. The underlying cause of these problems is the compression of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest in the body.

Degenerative disc disease and sciatica

Natural degenerative changes, like the age-related breakdown of the spinal 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. This is a general 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 and protein content within these discs, which reduces elasticity and makes them more brittle. When discs are less flexible, they are more likely to develop issues like bulges, protrusion or herniation. When this occurs in the lower back, it can lead to the disc or its contents compressing 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 sciatic nerve compression.

Looking into treatment options

Upon diagnosis of a degenerative spine condition as the underlying cause of sciatica, most doctors will recommend a course of conservative treatment options, such as rest, medication, physical therapy and massage. While nonsurgical care is often effective, surgery may be considered if conservative treatment is exhausted without providing the sciatica relief necessary to enjoy a good quality of life. If you find yourself in this situation, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our minimally invasive spine surgeries and how they may be able to relieve your symptoms.

We are happy to offer a free MRI review* so you can find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.

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