Sciatica is not an actual disease or health condition in itself. Instead, it’s a term used to describe a cluster of symptoms caused by other conditions stemming from the lower back.
Essentially, sciatica is the name given to the pain experienced after the sciatic nerve is irritated, inflamed or compressed. When this happens, it causes shooting pain on the leg, anywhere from your buttocks to the ankle.
What are the causes of sciatic pain? Here are four things that can cause sciatic pain.
1. Lumbar Bulging Disc or Herniated Disc
The spine has multiple discs that serve several functions, including flexibility, balancing loads placed on the spine and cushioning the vertebrae. Disc bulging and herniation typically occur in the lumbar spine because this is the part that supports the upper body, as well as any weights you might pick up.
When a disc bulges or herniates, it can press against an adjacent nerve root and compress delicate tissue. Depending on the nerve, this might cause sciatica.
This compression can occur on one side of the body, causing sciatic pain on this side or both sides. The latter is known as bilateral sciatic.
2. Spinal Tumors
Spinal tumours are abnormal growth on the spine that can be malignant or benign.
Benign growths in the spine can compress the sciatic nerve. Examples of these include:
Osteoid osteomas: these tend to be small and grow on bone. However, they can cause new bone to form in the affected area or osteoid bone to form around the tumour.
Aneurysmal bone cysts: these are not actual tumours but blood-filled cysts that tend to expand quickly.
Giant cell tumours: aggressive bone tumours that attack bones located close to a joint.
When spinal tumours develop in the lumbar region, there is always the chance of sciatica developing. Fortunately, spinal rumours are very rare, and so is the type of sciatica related to them.
Most pregnancies will come with some aches and pains. Sciatica is among the common discomforts experienced by mothers to be.
During pregnancy, the body releases hormones to make the ligaments in the pelvis and spine more flexible.
This, alongside the bay weight and other changes in the body, can cause sciatica and back pain. The pain can be experienced during the day as you go about normal business or at night, making it difficult to sleep.
The good news is that chiropractic adjustments and massages can help with this pain. It will also often go away after you have the baby.
Direct trauma from contact sports, motor vehicle accidents, assault and taking a tall can cause sciatica. The impact of any of these events can injure the nerves directly.
Broken bone fragments can also compress the nerves.
There is also traction-induced sciatica that can result from pelvic fractures or dislocations.
Other traumatic events that can cause sciatica include objects penetrating the body and tearing or cutting the nerve. These can be knives or even bullets.