5 Popular Causes of Sciatic Nerve Pain
Understanding the Spine and Sciatica
It’s important to understand and visualize what is going on behind the scenes that cause sciatic pain. Your spine contains five sets of nerve roots. Together, these paired nerves form the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest in the human body. It begins in the lower back where the pelvis is and goes down underneath the buttocks. From here, it moves down the hips and into the legs. The sciatic nerve is so important because, aside from size, it also plays a direct role in sending pain signals to the brain. This is why sciatica is one of the most common complaints in a doctor’s office.
Let’s review the top 5 cause of sciatic nerve pain.
Lumbar Bulging or Herniated Disc
Between each vertebra, there is a disc that provides shock support during your day-to-day, when the cushion-like disc slips or protrudes, it may place direct pressure against a nerve root. As a result, the pinched nerve will cause the pain and numbness you experience with sciatica.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Inside your spine runs a hollow canal and this is where nerve roots run through, much like a cable system. Normally, this canal provides plenty of room for the nerve roots but when you have spinal stenosis, the canal has narrowed. As a result, this places pressure on the nerves, resulting in sciatic nerve pain.
Much like a herniated disc, spondylolisthesis involves a slippage in the spine. The difference here is that the vertebra itself has slipped and is pinching the nerve that results in sciatic nerve pain. Spondylolisthesis may be a birth defect or caused by trauma. You can even have this happen when performing exercise incorrectly.
Sciatic nerve pain doesn’t have to originate within the body. External trauma is one of the most common causes of sciatica. Accidents involving motor vehicles, sports, improper exercise technique or falls are primary causes for sciatica. The result is a pinching or compression of the nerve that causes the sciatic nerve pain.
The piriformis muscle can be found within the hip flexors, allowing your hips to properly rotate. The sciatic nerve is laid out right next to this muscle. Piriformis syndrome is when the muscle begins to spasm and puts direct pressure on the nerve. As the muscle pushes against the nerve, sciatic nerve pain is the result.