How does sciatica happen?

Sciatica describes the symptoms that occur when the sciatic nerve — the longest and largest nerve in the body — becomes pinched or irritated by a surrounding component of the spine. A fairly common spinal problem, sciatica can be triggered by several conditions and factors in people of all ages and activity levels.

Common causes of sciatica

Sciatica is often caused by the body’s natural aging process. As we age, the spine becomes more brittle and weak, sometimes causing its components to shift outside their normal boundaries and irritate nearby nerves. Younger adults who participate in high impact sports, are overweight or who sit for extended periods of time throughout the day are also vulnerable to conditions that lead to sciatica. Here are a few of the most common causes of sciatica:

  • Bulging or herniated discs
  • Spinal stenosis (spinal narrowing)
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bone spurs

Sciatica treatment options

There are several conservative methods that are used to treat sciatica. Many physicians recommend a combination of physical therapy, gentle stretching, hot and/or cold therapy and medication to soothe pain and relieve nerve compression. Some patients also choose to explore their alternative treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic care.

Still, certain patients with more severe symptoms may require surgery to relieve nerve compression. In these instances, Laser Spine Institute offers a minimally invasive alternative to traditional open spine operations. Our procedures require a less than 1-inch incision, and when compared to traditional approaches, involve less risk, fewer potential complications and shorter recovery periods.^ Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more.

To discover if you are a candidate for treatment at Laser Spine Institute, ask our team how to receive a free MRI review.*

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