Seven Common Causes Of Sciatica
Sciatica is a term that refers to a set of symptoms that can develop as a result of the compression of the sciatic nerve. In fact, while it is the compression of the sciatic nerve that leads to the onset of the symptoms of sciatica, effective treatment of the condition may be less focused on the symptoms than it is on what is compressing the sciatic nerve in the first place. In many cases, when the sciatic nerve is decompressed, the symptoms of sciatica alleviate.
So, what leads to sciatic nerve compression in the first place?
The sciatic nerve is the largest and thickest nerve in the body. It extends from the base of the spinal cord in the lumbar (lower) spine and travels downward before culminating in the feet. This nerve is absolutely vital for regular movement, so when the normal function of the sciatic nerve is impeded, the body can respond with a variety of symptoms. In some cases, sciatic pain can develop in the lower back. In other instances, it travels along the length of the sciatic nerve and can cause lower body pain, muscle weakness and spasms, and even numbness in the feet.
Here are seven examples of the types of conditions that can lead directly to sciatica and sciatic pain:
- Bulging and herniated discs, because disc material or a bulging disc wall can directly impact the sciatic nerve
- Spondylolisthesis, which describes the misalignment of the spine, a condition that can result in the sciatic nerve being irritated by a displaced vertebra
- Bone spurs, which are smooth growths of excess bone that can take up space within the spinal column and irritate nearby nerve infrastructure
- Piriformis syndrome, which is a disorder of a narrow muscle located nearby the sciatic nerve
- Pregnancy, which can lead to nerve compression in part because of the weight burden that comes from carrying a child to term
- Lower back or buttock strain, which is perhaps the most common source of sciatic pain and usually heals over the course of several days
- Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction, which refers to a disorder within the SI joint near the tailbone
Treating sciatic pain
There are many different treatment options available to patients who have been diagnosed with sciatica. Usually, treatment is first attempted with a course of conservative treatments, although surgery may be eventually be considered if all other treatment options fail to deliver acceptable results. At Laser Spine Institute, we specialize in a number of state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures that can be effective alternatives for patients who have sciatica as a result of a degenerative spine condition. To determine if you may be a candidate for one of our treatments by getting a no-cost review of your recent MRI,* contact us today.