Sciatica is a disorder that is commonly associated with pain on the lower back. The disorder affects one side of the lower region. In most cases, the pain later radiates to other parts of the lower abdomen, especially to the leg through the buttocks. The pain can even go past the knee down to the foot. Read more here.
Having a basic understanding of the underlying factors that cause sciatica is vital. This is especially true if you’re planning on undergoing sciatica treatment since the treatment method is dependent on the cause of the disorder. In the same breath, aside from effective treatment, having a rudimentary understanding of the causes of the disease is crucial in alleviating the acute symptoms of the disorder.
What Is the Cause of Sciatica Pain? If you’re still clueless or wondering what causes this pain this article aims at providing you with an exhaustive list of the common causes of sciatica.
Common Cause of Sciatica
Lumbar herniated disc
A hernia is the rupture of smooth muscle tissue through which a body structure protrudes. In our case, a lumbar herniated disc also referred to as a slipped disc, ruptured disc, bulging disc or pinched nerve, refers to the protrusion of the nucleus pulposus.
The nucleus pulposus is a jelly-like act as a shock absorber and allows the vertebral disc to withstand forces of compression and torsion.
When the disc herniates or bulges out, it causes direct contact of the nerve root and interior of the bony spinal canal, which results in a sharp pain known as sciatica.
The consequence of a herniated disk is not only limited to sciatica. The protrusion of the nucleus pulposus exposes the surrounding tissues to hyaluronic acid-a chemical irritant found in the jelly, which can result in nerve inflammation.
Both cases are associated with numbing, tingling pain and muscle weakness.
To avoid a ruptured disc, avoid taking heavy weights and twisting at the same time.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Age comes with the breakdown of tissues, and the lumbar discs are no exception. However, despite the breakdown process being a natural process that comes with age, degeneration of lumbar discs varies a lot between seniors.
This is why you find some seniors having degenerative disc disease, while others are completely healthy.
When you have a degenerative disease, the cushion between the spinal canal and the exterior is compromised leading to exposure to the nerves, which causes sciatica.
Similarly, bone spurs, which are commonplace with disc degeneration, can also press against a nerve an can result in sciatica.
In short, degenerative disc disease has a similar approach to sciatica like a herniated disc, with the only difference that the latter is a natural process.
Spondylolisthesis is a lumbar spine disorder that occurs when one vertebra slips over an adjacent vertebra. For instance, it may occur when the L5 vertebra slips over the S1 vertebra. In this scenario, the slipping causes the displacement of one vertebra, resulting in spinal compression, and may result in sciatic leg pain.
In addition to the slippage, other fractures associated with the slippage such as disc space collapse and fractures can result in pinching of the nerve and exacerbate the risk of sciatica.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is a condition associated with the narrowing of the spinal canal, which leads to nerve compression. Similar to degenerative disc disease, Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is associated with natural aging, especially in the spine, and is common with seniors above 60 years.
With age, the spinal nerve roots outgrow and branch from the spinal cord to the neural foramina. With time, the neural foramina become clogged or rather narrow, resulting in nerve compression, which results in sciatica.
However, pain caused by Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is positional and can be triggered by activities such as standing or walking for long. It can, however, be relieved by resting or sitting down.
Just like the name suggests, Piriformis syndrome is associated with the Piriformis muscles located in the lower spine. Sciatic pain occurs if the Piriformis muscle irritates or pinches a nerve root. This can occur when there’s an occurrence of muscle spasms thereby irritating the sciatic nerve.
Some of the other causes that can cause sciatica pain include;
- Spinal tumor
In addition to the above causes, other lifestyle practices can increase the risk of getting sciatica. You should avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits such as wearing of high-heeled shoes, being overweight, not exercising, sleeping on too soft mattresses and picking extremely weighty objects.