Several lumbar spine (lower back) disorders may cause sciatica. Sciatica is usually referred to as light to severe pain in the left or right leg. Occasionally doctors call a radiculopathy that is sciatica. Radiculopathy is a medical term used to spell out pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in legs or the arms caused by a nerve root issue. It’s known as a cervical radiculopathy, in the event the nerve difficulty is in the neck. But since sciatica influences the low back, it is called a lumbar.
Table of Contents
Pathways To Sciatic Nerve Pain
Five sets of matched nerve roots in the lumbar spine combine to generate the sciatic nerve. Beginning at the rear of the pelvis (sacrum), the sciatic nerve runs in the trunk, under the buttock, and down through the hip region into each leg. Nerve roots aren’t “solitary” structures but are part of the entire body’s entire nervous system capable of transmitting pain and sensation to different parts of the body. Radiculopathy happens when compression of a nerve root from a disc rupture (herniated disc) or bone spur (osteophyte) happens in the lumbar spine prior to it joining the sciatic nerve.
What Causes Sciatic Nerve Compression?
Several spinal ailments can cause spinal nerve compression and sciatica or lumbar radiculopathy.
- piriformis syndrome
- spinal tumors
Common Sciatica Cause #1: Lumbar Bulging Disc or Herniated Disc
A bulging disk is also called a contained disc illness. What this means is the gel-like center (nucleus pulposus) remains “included” within the tire-like outer wall (annulus fibrosus) of the disk.
A herniated disc happens when the nucleus breaks through the annulus fibrosus. It is called a “non-controlled” disk disorder. Whether a disc bulges or herniates, disk stuff compress delicate nerve tissue and cause sciatica and can press against an adjacent nerve root.
The effects of a herniated disc are worse. In both instances, nerve compression and irritation cause inflammation and pain, muscle weakness, tingling, and often ultimately causing extremity numbness.
Common Sciatica Cause #2: Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a nerve compression illness most frequently affecting older adults. Leg pain similar to sciatica may happen as an effect of lumbar spinal stenosis. The pain is generally positional, frequently brought on by actions like standing or walking and relieved by sitting down.
Spinal nerve roots branch outward through passageways in the spinal cord called neural foramina comprised of bone and ligaments. Between each group of vertebral bodies, located on the left and right sides, is a foramen. Nerve roots pass through these openings and extend outward to innervate other portions of the body. The term foraminal stenosis can be used when these passageways become clogged causing nerve compression or narrow.
Common Sciatica Cause #3: Spondylolisthesis
Spondylolisthesis is a disorder that almost all commonly influences the lumbar spine. It’s distinguished by one vertebra slipping forwards over an adjacent vertebra. When a vertebra slips and is displaced, spinal nerve root compression happens and frequently causes sciatic leg pain. Spondylolisthesis is categorized as developmental (located at birth, grows during childhood) or got from spinal degeneration, trauma or physical stress (eg, lifting weights).
Common Sciatica Cause #4: Trauma
Examples include motor vehicle accidents, falling down, football and other sports. The impact may injure the nerves or, sometimes, the nerves may compress.
Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscle and the pain caused when the sciatic nerve is irritated by the muscle. The piriformis muscle and the thighbone is found in the lower part of the spine, connect, and aids in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. Piriformis syndrome grows when muscle spasms develop in the piriformis muscle thereby compressing the sciatic nerve. It may be challenging to diagnose and treat because of the shortage of x ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings.
Common Sciatica Cause #5: Piriformis Syndrome
Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscle when the muscle irritates the sciatic nerve and the pain caused. The piriformis muscle and the thighbone is located in the low part of the backbone, connect, and aids in hip rotation. When muscle spasms develop in the piriformis muscle thus compressing the sciatic nerve, piriformis syndrome develops. It can be hard to diagnose and treat due to the lack of x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings.
Common Sciatica Cause #6: Spinal Tumours
Spinal tumors are abnormal growths which are either benign or cancerous (malignant). Fortunately, spinal tumors are uncommon. But when a spinal tumor develops in the lumbar region, there’s a risk for sciatica to grow as a result of nerve compression.
Call your doctor should you imagine you have sciatica. The very first step toward relieving pain is a proper diagnosis.
The information herein on "6 Leading Causes of Sciatica" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.
We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card