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Sciatic Pain: Causes

Sciatic pain is chiefly due to inflammation of the sciatic nerve. This condition usually gives you pain from the lower back down to your knee. You can also feel tenderness in your leg and thigh. There are several causes of sciatic pain, and these should be carefully assessed to apply proper treatment.


When the nerve root found in the lower lumbar spine and lumbosacral area is irritated, compressed, or inflamed, sciatic pain results. Among the prevalent causes of sciatic pain include:

-Lumbar spinal stenosis - constriction of the lower spinal canal

-Degenerative disk disorders causing the vertebral disks to collapse

-Herniated or slipped disk in the lumbar area

-Spondylolisthesis - forward displacement of a vertebra

Lumbar herniated/slipped disk occurs when the disk's nucleus pulposus extrudes through the annulus. Other terms for this condition include protruding disk, ruptured disk, bulging disk or pinched nerve. This condition is usually manifested by sciatic pain.

In lumbar spinal stenosis, the spinal canal in the lumbar area is constricted leading to sciatic pain. This medical condition affects mostly elderly people over 60 years old. This is generally due to soft tissue overgrowth, engorged joints, and swollen disks which apply pressure on the sciatic nerve roots.

Degenerative disorders affecting the vertebral disks are among the leading causes of sciatic pain too. Aging is a natural phenomenon that's normally associated with disk degeneration. Sciatic pain in several cases is due to degeneration of one or more disks resulting to irritation of a nerve root.

Isthmic spondylolisthesis results when a disk is displaced forward due to a stress fracture. Sciatic pain results due to the combined effect of the stress fracture, disc space breakdown and forward slipping of the affected vertebra.

Piriformis syndrome may also irritate the sciatic nerve leading to pain. If the piriformis muscle is pinched and irritated, a nerve root giving rise to sciatic nerve can cause sciatic pain. Another condition causing sciatic pain is sacroiliac joint dysfunction which leads to the irritation of the sacroiliac joint located at the lower spine. If the L5 nerve lying above the sacroiliac joint is affected, sciatic pain may result.

Direct compression of the sciatic nerve can also give rise to sciatic pain. This can occur when external factors affect the areas where the sacral spinal or lumbar nerve roots are located. This can be due to falls or vehicular and sport-related accidents. Injury can result which may cause bone fractures and nerve compression.

Another essential cause of sciatic pain is the presence of tumors in the spine. If the tumor occurs in the lumbar area, a nerve may be compressed leading to sciatic pain. When the lower back vertebrae are displaced or misaligned (lumbar subluxation), nerve dysfunction may occur resulting in sciatic pain.

Sciatic pain may also possibly occur due to the following: * obesity

* use of high-heeled shoes

* insufficient exercise

* lying on very soft mattress

When you have sciatic pain, you may experience pain that aggravates when you sit, tingling and burning sensation as well as numbness and weakness in your lower extremity. Moving your leg can be very painful and difficult. Your doctor can diagnose it with imaging techniques like CT scan, MRI or X-rays. And you will be given muscle relaxants and pain relievers as part of your sciatic pain treatment.


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