If you experience mild to severe pain in your left or right leg, chances are you may have sciatica. Sciatica is a painful disorder caused by pressure in the sciatic nerve, which is the large nerve that extends from the lower back down to the back of the legs. It is usually most common in people from 30 to 50 years of age.
Normal symptoms of sciatica include pain in the rear or leg that worsens when you are sitting, weakness, numbness, continuous pain on one side of the rear, burning sensations down the leg, and difficulty in moving the leg or foot. Usually, it only affects one side of the lower body, but the pain can be extensive, running along the lower back, down the back of the thigh, and onto the leg and foot.
The pain caused by sciatica can be unbearable, so it is important to know some of the causes of this lumbar spine disorder, so you can treat it appropriately. Take note that if ever you feel a severe or debilitating pain in your lower back, it is best to seek medical attention immediately.
Here are some of the common causes of sciatica:
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis – Spinal stenosis is a disorder that refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal, due to pressure that decreases the space between the vertebrae. Once the spinal canal is narrowed, it compresses the nerves that form the sciatic nerve.
Spondylolisthesis – This lumbar spine disorder occurs when one vertebra slips forward over an adjacent vertebra. This compresses the spinal nerve roots, which leads to pain in the leg. This type of disorder can develop at birth, during childhood, or as a result of trauma, stress, or degeneration.
Herniated Disc/Bulging Disc – This type of disc disorder often occurs when one of the vertebral discs in the lower back bulges or herniates outward, causing compression of the sciatic nerves. Once compression occurs, it can cause swelling and pain in the sciatic nerve and can lead to numbness, burning or tingling, and weakness.
Piriformis Syndrome – The piriformis muscle is a tiny muscle found in the buttocks near the sciatic nerve, and this disorder occurs when the piriformis muscle tightens and places excess pressure on the sciatic nerve. Once this happens, muscle spasms develop and result in symptoms of inflammation and irritation.
Trauma – Accidents that cause injuries to the nerves can result in unbearable sciatic pain This usually occurs when there is damage to the nerves or something like a broken bone compresses the nerves. Car accidents, physical sports, and even falling down are some common causes of this type of trauma.
Spinal Tumor – Although rare, spinal tumors can cause nerve compression, which results in sciatic pain.
Pregnancy – Women are at a higher risk of developing sciatica when they are pregnant due to their added weight and increased stress during bending movements. Moreover, spinal nerves that form the sciatic nerve are also compressed due to the expanded uterus.
Other common causes of sciatica are being overweight, wearing high heels, and not exercising enough.
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