Sciatica is a debilitating condition. Although it is considered as a common type of low back pain, exactly it means set of symptoms including pain.
Compression of the lumbar nerve root, sacral nerve root, or sciatic nerve itself can be the source of sciatica.
If the sciatica is caused by lumbar nerve root, it will be considered as lumbar radiculopathy.
What Are The Leading Issues Of Sciatica?
Disc herniation (lumbar bulging), lumbar spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, spondylolisthesis, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, trauma, spinal tumors, trigger points, and pregnancy are some of the illnesses that can lead to sciatica.
Disc herniation is also called as disc disease. It means when the disc bulges, it presses on the adjacent nerve roots and compresses the delicate nerve tissue causing sciatica. Herniated disc causes the direct compression of the nerve roots adjacent to the interior of the bony spinal canal.
It is not only the disc that causes nerve root compression, but also the material present inside the disc that contains acidic and chemical irritants can cause nerve inflammation.
In both the above-mentioned cases, the inflammation and compression leads to numbness and tingling of the extremities and muscle weakness.
Lumbar spinal stenosis can be mostly seen in matured people. It is a nerve compression disorder. Leg pain, which is similar to sciatica, is seen as a result of lumbar spinal stenosis.
Piriformis syndrome is given the name because when the piriformis muscle irritates the sciatic nerve, it gives severe leg pain leading to sciatica. This muscle helps in rotating the hip and is present in the lower part of the spine connecting to thighbone.
In 12-16% of the people, this sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle. In those people, if the muscle spasms shorten due to trauma, it compresses the sciatic nerve causing pain in the leg.
Spondylolisthesis is a spinal disorder that most commonly influences the lumbar spine. It is a slipping forward of one of the lower lumbar vertebrae on the adjacent vertebra (vertebra below it or upon the sacrum).
This displacement of the vertebra (vertebral slip) leads to nerve root compression and it in turn causes sciatica with sciatic leg pain.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is another major risk factor of sciatica. Unhealthy postural habits like sleeping in a fetal position, sitting for most of the time, insufficient stretching, etc., can lead to soft tissue and vertebral problems.
Trauma is a direct nerve compression caused by external forces, such as motor vehicle accident, falling down, sports, etc., to the lumbar and sacral nerve roots. This trauma can result in irritation of sciatic nerves.
Spinal tumors are growth of neoplasms in the spinal cord. The growth may be either benign or malignant. However, these tumors are rare. The development of tumor in the lumbar region results in nerve compression, which means the risk for developing sciatica.
Pregnancy also leads to sciatica, as during pregnancy the uterus presses on the sciatic nerve. Secondarily, the muscular tension and vertebral compression caused by extra weight of the fetus can result in sciatic pain.
If the sciatica is not addressed properly, it is one of those horrible conditions, which can remain for years. So, if you think you are suffering from sciatica, the first step should be to contact a spine specialist to relieve from pain with proper diagnosis.