In general, sciatica is caused by the compression of the nerve roots located in the lower back or in the lumbar area. The nerve roots that are affected or compressed may be only one set, but in some cases there are more than five sets that suffer this disorder. There are several various types of spinal disorders, which can cause this spinal nerve compression. Basing from the various medical studies conducted, there are six most common types of nerve compression. These are the herniated or bulging disc, lumbar spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, trauma, piriformis syndrome, and spinal tumors.
Specific Causes of Sciatica
- Lumbar Herniated Disc (LHD)
Going to the specifics of the sciatica causes, the first one is the Lumbar Herniated Disc (LHD). A bulging or herniated disc is also referred to as ‘Contained Disc Disorder’ (CDD). This generally refers to the nucleus pulpous, a gel-like center, which remains contained in the annulus fibrosus or the tire-like an outer wall.
Herniated disc happens when the nucleus in our body breaks through our annulus. This occurrence is called ‘non-contained disc disorder’. Further, whether the disc herniates or bulges, the disc material can still press against the adjacent nerve root. The worst case scenario is when this disc material also presses a delicate nerve tissue other than the nerve root. This will eventually cause sciatica. After this, the herniated disc will get worse. The nerve compression as well as the irritation will often cause the pain and inflammation. This has a high probability to lead into extreme tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness of the patient.
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis (LSS)
Another cause of sciatica is the Lumbar Spinal Stenosis (LSS). This spinal stenosis is generally a disorder of a nerve compression. This disorder often happens to mature by people. One of the common results of this spinal stenosis is a leg pain which is very much similar to that of sciatica. The pain being experienced in this case is positional. This is usually caused by some activities like walking or by standing for a long period of time. This pain caused by such activities are often relieved by sitting down.
To be more specific, the spinal nerve roots in this case normally branch outward from the patient’s spinal cord through the passageways. These passageways are called ‘neural foramina’. This neural foramen is composed of bone as well as ligaments. Consequently, nerve roots will pass through the foramen and will then extend outward to the spinal column and beyond it. When these foramen passageways get clogged or narrow, it will then cause the nerve compression. This nerve compression will result to the pain felt in the low back radiating to the legs of the patient. Eventually, sciatica will develop if not treated immediately.
Spondylolisthesis, on the other hand, is a kind of disorder, which generally affects the lumbar spine. This disorder is normally characterized by a vertebra that slips forward over its adjacent vertebra. When this happens and the vertebra is displaced, spinal nerve root compression will occur. Once nerve compression took place, this will again cause the sciatic leg pain.
Moreover, spondylolisthesis is under the developmental category. It is classified under such as category since it is discovered during the birth of the patient and will develop during his childhood. This can also be acquired by spinal degeneration, physical stress, and trauma.
Trauma is another common cause of sciatica. In this cause, sciatica is a result from the nerve compression which is primarily caused by the external forces to the body’s lumbar or the sacral spinal nerve roots.
Examples of these external forces generally include accidents by motor vehicles, falling down, football and other sports with the same nature. The impact from these incidents may injure the nerve or may occasionally compress the nerves because of the fragments of broken bones.
- Piriforis Syndrome
Pirifori’s syndrome is also another sciatica cause, which refers to the pain when muscle irritates the sciatic nerve. This kind of syndrome happens when the muscle spasms generally develop within the muscle of the piriformis. These developed muscle spasms will then compress the sciatic nerve.
The main problem concerning this syndrome is that it is sometimes difficult to diagnose and hard to be treated. This is because of the lack of MRI or x-ray findings of the patient.
- Spinal Tumor
The last most common cause of sciatica is the spinal tumor. Spinal tumors are those abnormal growths which are either cancerous or benign. The good news is that these cases of tumors are rare. However, when this spinal tumor develops within the region of the lumbar, sciatica will also be developed because of the nerve compression.