Symptoms of leg pain and perhaps tingling, numbness or weakness that move from the low back into and out of the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of the leg is known as sciatica pain. In most cases, people who experience this type of pain get better with time (from a few weeks to months) and find pain relief with non-surgical treatment. Unfortunately, in other cases, sciatica can have near crippling affects on sufferers.
Radiculopathy is often the clinical diagnosis of sciatica. This means that a disc has bulged from its normal position in the vertebral column and is putting pressure on the nerve root in the lower back, which forms part of the sciatic nerve.
It is important to note that sciatica is a symptom of a problem, an irritant on the nerve root that makes up the sciatic nerve. Most frequently, sciatica occurs between the ages of 30 - 50. Usually sciatica is not a result of a particular event or injury, but instead it is a result of general wear and tear on the structures of the lower spine.
Possible Causes of Sciatica Pain
Lumbar Herniated Disc
A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner core of the disc is forced out or herniates through the fibrous outer core of the disc, resulting in irritation of the contiguous nerve root as it leaves the spine. Sudden twisting motion or injury may lead to an eventual disc herniation and sciatica. Usually repetitive stress can lead to weakened discs and result in herniation. It also may be known as a slipped disk, ruptured disk, bulging disc, protruding disc, or a pinched nerve. The most common symptom of a lumbar herniated disc is sciatica.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
This is a narrowing of the spinal canal and may cause sciatic pain. Lumber spinal stenosis usually results from a combination of one or more of the following: enlarged facet joints, soft tissue protrusion and a bulging disc placing pressure on the nerve roots as they exit the spine.
Degenerative Disc Disease
A natural process that occurs with aging, one or more degenerated discs may exasperate a nerve root and cause sciatica.
A condition where a small stress fracture allows one vertebral body to slip forward on another vertebral body.
When the piriformis muscle inflames or pinches a nerve root that comprises the sciatic nerve, sciatica-type pain may result.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Aggravation of the sacroiliac joint at the base of the spine may irritate the nerve that lies on top of it (L5) and produce sciatica-type pain.