What causes sciatica?

Many patients are interested in learning what causes sciatica after being diagnosed with this condition. If your life is being put on hold by the painful symptoms that can make even simple tasks nearly impossible, becoming a more educated patient can be a great first step in getting the help you need. This knowledge can help you to work more closely with your doctor to develop a treatment plan with the best chance of returning you to the people and activities you love.

Defining sciatica

The term sciatica describes the group of symptoms that can arise from compression of the sciatic nerve. This is often caused by a spine condition such as a herniated disc or an arthritic bone spur in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine. Specific symptoms can include:

  • Localized pain
  • Pain traveling the length of the nerve, potentially all the way to the toes
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Numbness

The degeneration of spinal anatomy leads to narrowing of the nerve pathways and compression of nerves like the sciatic is usually related to aging. With time, the joints and discs that link and cushion the vertebrae become worn out and less able to properly function. Everyday movement and injury also contribute to conditions that are the underlying causes of sciatica.


Typically, conservative treatments are very effective in managing sciatica symptoms. Your doctor may suggest you begin a program consisting of things like light exercise, stretching, physical therapy, pain medication, a nutritious diet and better posture. However, some people can’t find the relief required for an improved quality of life through these methods and begin to consider elective surgery.

If this is your situation, contact Laser Spine Institute for more information about minimally invasive spine surgery. Our board-certified surgeons+ perform these procedures on an outpatient basis, which helps patients avoid hospital-associated costs and offers less risk of complication compared to traditional open back surgery.

Reach out to us today. Our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants can help you get a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.

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