Sciatica usually manifests as pain which radiates from the lower back, travelling through the buttocks and down the back of one leg. This pain may be felt as far down the extremity as the toes.
Weakness, numbness and an “electrical shock” sensation are associated with this condition, which may be worse when switching from a seated position to standing.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably struggling with sciatic pain, so you’ll want to read on about some of the things that might be causing your sciatica.
One of the most common causes of sciatica is a disc herniation in the lumbar (lower back) spine.
The spinal discs are the shock absorbers of the spine, maintaining a safe distance between vertebrae to keep them from rubbing against each other.
When a disc is herniated, the anulus (tough outer coating) splits, allowing the gel-like nucleus (disc contents) to ooze out. When this happens, the nucleus has impinged on the space usually reserved for nerves, so its presence causes inflammation and pain.
Not all lumbar disc herniations cause pain but when they do, it can seem that the pain comes out of the blue. But it takes some time for repetitive motion to wear the disc down to the point of a herniation. It’s at that point that nerve impingement occurs.
But if you’ve suddenly hurt your back (lifting heavy objects for example), you may herniate a disc.
This is another common cause of sciatic pain. When a vertebra is pushed forward over the vertebra just underneath it, the cause may be a fracture or other instability in the spine.
Cumulative stress on the spine as the joints begin to wear down is usually the cause of spondylolisthesis but trauma from impact may also cause it.
Most spondylolisthesis patients have no symptoms. When pain occurs, it’s experienced as a burning or sharp pain that (like sciatica) travels through the buttocks to the legs.
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spaces in your spine that nerves travel through narrow. This places pressure on the nerves, causing inflammation and pain – especially sciatic pain.
Patients usually find it difficult to walk very far without their legs starting to hurt. Sitting down stops the pain.
While spinal stenosis can occur in the cervical spine, only lumbar stenosis can cause sciatica. Most often seen in middle-aged and older patients, spinal stenosis is primarily provoked by degeneration of the spine.
These are several of the things that may be causing your sciatic pain, but there are others. To determine the cause of yours, a visit to your doctor for a diagnosis is your next step. Most cases of sciatica can be treated with conservative therapies to mitigate pain, improve function and restore quality of life.
Spine Consult NJ
The team at Spine Consult NJ is here to help with sciatic pain, starting with extensive, state-of-the-art diagnostics to get to the heart of the matter.
Our mission at SCNJ is to restore patients to full function and quality of life. Contact us.