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Sciatica is a disorder of the lower back called a radiculopathy where the a nerve root that connects to the sciatic nerve is pinched, compressed or irritated causing multiple symptoms. The most common symptoms related to sciatica are found in the lower back.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes sciatica due to a narrowing of the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis is related to natural aging in the spine and is relatively common in adults over age 60. The condition typically results from a combination of one or more of the following: enlarged facet joints, overgrowth of soft tissue, and a bulging disc placing pressure on the nerve roots as they exit the spine, causing sciatica pain.
Degenerative disc disease is a natural process that occurs with aging, for some people one or more degenerated discs in the lower back can also irritate a nerve root and cause sciatica. Degenerative disc disease is diagnosed when a weakened disc results in excessive micro-motion at that spinal level, and inflammatory proteins from inside the disc become exposed and irritate the area (including the nerve roots). This is truly not a disease despite its name, it is part of the natural aging process.
Herniated discs occur when the soft inner core of the disc (nucleus pulposus) leaks out, or herniates, through the fibrous outer core of the disc and irritates the contiguous nerve root as it exits the spine. In general, it is thought that a sudden twisting motion or injury can lead to an eventual disc herniation and sciatica. However, most discs weaken over time due to repetitive stress, eventually resulting in herniation. A herniated disc is sometimes referred to as a slipped disc, ruptured disc, bulging disc, protruding disc, or a pinched nerve, and sciatica is the most common symptom of a lumbar herniated disc.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction occurs when the sacroiliac joint, located at the bottom of the spine, becomes irritated at the L5 nerve, which lies on top of the sacroiliac joint, causing pain typical to sciatica type symptoms. The leg pain can feel the same as sciatica caused by a nerve irritation.
Isthmic spondylolisthesis is a condition that occurs when a small stress fracture allows one vertebral body to slip forward on another vertebral body. With a combination of disc space collapse, the fracture, and the vertebral body slipping forward, the nerve can get pinched as it exits the spine and cause sciatica.
Piriformis syndrome is a condition where the sciatic nerve is irritated as it runs under the piriformis muscle in the rear. If the piriformis muscle irritates or pinches a nerve root that comprises the sciatic nerve, it can cause sciatica-type pain. This is not a true radiculopathy, but the leg pain can feel the same as sciatica caused by a nerve irritation.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, or root causes of sciatica, you should visit a spinal doctor today. Your local chiropractor can examine and diagnose each of the above causes of sciatica and with a complete medical history, determine the proper treatment program.
- Official Disability Guidelines
- What is Chiropractic
- Why Chiropractic
- Benefits of Manual Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Bad Posture and Bad Health
- Chiropractic and Scoliosis
- Herniated Disc Back Pain
- Leg Numbness
- Lower Back Pain
- Neck Pain & Chiropractic Therapy
- Causes of Upper Back Pain
- Diagnosing Whiplash
- Common Causes of Sciatica
- Tingling Arms & Hands
- Chiropractic & Pain Relief