5 Common Causes of Sciatica

Sciatica is a sharp, shooting, radiating pain that starts in the lower back or hip and runs down the back of the thigh, buttocks and possibly into the calf. Sciatica ranges from mild to severe and in some cases, can be debilitating.

Most people are familiar with the term “sciatica” but do not know that it is not a diagnosis, but a symptom of an underlying spinal condition. In fact, sciatica is caused by the irritation of a spinal nerve, but the source of the nerve irritation can vary.

Once the cause is known, a treatment plan can be prescribed to cure the condition causing it (or prevent it from becoming worse) and decrease symptoms.

At The Orthopaedic Institute of Central Jersey, our Board Certified Spine Specialists have helped thousands of patients suffering from sciatica using the latest in non-surgical and minimally invasive spine procedures.

Below are five of the most common causes of sciatica.

Sciatica Common Cause #1: A Herniated Disc

Intervertebral discs are soft cartilage shock absorbers that lie between each vertebrae in the spine. The lumbar intervertebral discs are especially important because most of the body’s weight is distributed to the lower back when standing and walking.

A herniated disc occurs when one or more discs becomes damaged and begins to protrude into the spinal canal. In many cases, portions of the herniated disc will press on the spinal nerve which in turn causes the localized and radiating pain known as sciatica.

Sciatica Common Cause #2: Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear of joint bone and soft tissue with age or injury. Like all joints of the body, the facet joints of the spine are susceptible to osteoarthritis. When facet joint bones and soft tissue are irritated and inflamed, the surrounding nerves may be as well. Or in some cases, bone spurs may develop and put pressure on nerve roots causing sciatica.

Sciatica Common Cause #3: Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis the narrowing of the spinal canal and spinal stenosis in the lumbar region of the spine can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots and irritate them. Sciatica symptoms present when spinal stenosis compresses and irritates the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica Common Cause #4: Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips forward, backward, or over an adjacent bone. A slipped lumbar vertebra that protrudes into the spinal canal and pinches the spinal cord may cause sciatica. A fracture caused by a high impact injury or birth defect can cause spondylolisthesis. Sciatica that presents after an accident or injury should be seen as soon as possible to diagnose or rule out a fracture.

Sciatica Common Cause #5: Muscle Spasms

The sciatic nerve and its branches innervate many muscles in the back and legs. Muscles spasms may put pressure on the nerve or branches and cause sciatica symptoms. Symptoms are usually relieved when spasms are treated with simple nonsurgical treatment options like rest, anti-inflammatory medications, activity modification, bracing, and physical therapy.

Making an Appointment

Sciatica is best treated when diagnosed in its early stages. If you experience sciatica symptoms, please make an appointment with one of our Spine Specialists at our locations in Wall, Toms River, Freehold, Manahawkin or Red Bank. Our goal is to get you back to an active and healthy life using a treatment plan customized to you and your goals!

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