So you are pretty sure it is sciatica you are suffering from...
And you know that sciatica is just a description of symptoms that have one thing in common: they show up anywhere in the area that is served by your sciatica nerve, which exits your spine in the lower back, then runs through the buttock all the way down to the sole of your foot. Symptoms of sciatica therefore show up anywhere along the sciatic nerve.
But what causes sciatica to develop?...
The 8 Most Commonly Mentioned Causes Of Sciatic Pains
Sciatica is most often believed to be the result of something pressing against the sciatic nerve. Down below we will look at the 7 most common causes for that to happen, but let me first go one step beyond and immediately look at what all these causes have in common...
In general the major idea behind these causes is firstly an irritation of the sciatic nerve through a diversity of causes, then secondly a resulting inflammation, which then thirdly leads to the described pains. Please stick with me, there is hope for you if you suffer from any of these conditions! Easy now, I realize I first mentioned 8 causes and then only talk about 7 possibly causing pinching of the sciatic nerve, just read on, you'll get it...
OK - here are the 8 Most Mentioned Causes of Sciatica
1. Herniated Discs or Bulging Discs
If one of your discs bulges, or even fully herniates (breaks through), the resulting bulge or herniation could directly push against the sciatic nerve, thus directly leading to a flare up of sciatic pains. I agree that this is a possible cause of a nerve getting pinched, but there are some remarks to make here, and I have decided to write a special article explaining more about that. Many believe bulging or herniated discs are the leading cause of sciatica, but this might not be so, but I get ahead of my self if I am not carefull..., so let me first continue with the other oftenmentioned causes.
2. Disc Disease- Thin and Dehydrated Discs
When the health of your discs decreases and your discs as a result get thinner and thinner, this will obviously lead to your spinal vertebrae getting closer and closer. This leaves less room between the vertebrae, which could indeed lead to your nerves getting compressed (or pinched) between vertebrae. Simply becuase your vertebrae just got too close to each other because your discs got too thin. This gradual thinning and progressive weakening of intervertebral discs is often called degenerative disc disease, but I think that term should be abandoned and changed to chronic disc neglect... (and THAT is GOOD NEWS because neglect is something you can turn around!)
Spondylolisthesis Causing Sciatic Pain3. Spondylolysthesis - Slipped Vertebra
Spondylolisthesis, the word means slipping of vertebra, and that definitely does happen. It apparently can be caused by a defect in the back of the vertebral bone, or small hairline fractures in that same area. At the right you see an mri scan of such a slipped vertebra, but here's the thing: there are people with an mri like this, with a clearly slipped vertebra, who NEVER EVER suffered from any sciatic pains at all, so to me therefore it is doubtfull also in this case that this is the cause of symptoms of sciatica but at the same time let's be clear about one thing: it is not a good thing if you have a slipped vertebra. I am just doubtfull it is the cause of sciatic pains.
4. Piriformis Syndrome
The piriformis is a small muscle in your buttock and this muscle can become tight and sore and is believed to be able to pinch the sciatic nerve so hard that sciatica symptoms develop. This is commonly called the piriformis syndrome. Problems in your piriformis muscle can apparently result from irritation, prolonged sitting, running, walking, falls or over-exertion.I believe the key is in the word 'sore', and in the article about triggerpoints and sciatic nerve pain you'll discover everything there is to know about this AND how to solve this problem easily.
5. Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is the word we use for the narrowing of the canal inside the lumbar spine through which the spinal cord passes, and it is easy to understand that if this canal is narrowed, the sciatic nerve can be compressed or pinched. Now this is definitely something to worry about. But I would like to go one step further in the root cause analysis and ask what caused the stenosis in the first place? There has to be a cause of this narrowing.
6. Injuries and Tumors
The sciatic nerve can be pinched or compressed by muscles or bones getting hurt in an accident, but also a tumor, infections or internal bleeding could be causing an irritation of your sciatic nerve. For the scope of this series of articles I will leave this out. I aim at the other so-called causes, they can all be worked on easily by your self. Injuries and tumors require special medical care, which go beyond what I want to cover here. If this is you, please accept my sympathy and may the good Lord grant you recovery and restoration to full health.
7. Pregnancy - Women Only! -:)
For women sciatica symptoms often seem to happen during pregnancy. Because this is such a special time with so much happening in the female body, I have written a special article about that as well, in which you'll find some good things that hopefully help you correct your own sciatica troubles during pregnancy.
8. No Obvious Cause At All
I am not joking here, but there are just far too many people who clearly have symptoms that can only be labeled with full blown sciatica, yet none of the above applies to them. And I mention that here because to me it allows room for thinking out of the box. Let me to explain...
So there are people who suffer from sciatica and they clearly have one of the 7 first conditions, so everyone thinks that the sciatica must be caused by that...
I have 3 problems with that thinking:
1. How about people who fall in category 8, who do clearly suffer from sciatica, but no one can label the cause? Where does their sciatic pain come from?
2.How about the people who demonstrably have one or more of the conditions above, but show no sign of any sciatic pains whatsoever? Like I mentioned already with spondylolsithesis, there are people who have this condition, but NO pain at all, research is adamant as well that if we take 100 average adults from the street and run them through a full blown mri scan, in 25% of the cases we will find bulging discs, yet the same research tells us that most of these people will have NO pain at all.
To me this means that none of the above conditions gives a true explanation of the cause of sciatic pains.
3. The third and last problem I have with this thinking is that most of the conditions above are not the root cause. What I mean by that is this: even though your bulging disc might be compressing your sciatic nerve, before you can deal with your sciatica, you still need to figure out what caused your bulging disc...
Have a look at the picture below, I made that to explain that there are symptoms, then there are conditons and further down there are the true causes. And I strongly believe that until you figure out what really caused your symptoms and the underlying conditions, you will never be able to help your body solve it's own problems.
And I also believe that once you get to the root of your sciatic troubles and deal with that, the symptoms will just disappear. You may call me an optimist, but I have so many emails on file from people who exactly experienced this, so I hope this encourages you!
So take a look at the pic below, then move on to the next article, or if you like, move on directly to what I think is the best treatment for sciatica.
Sciatica Is The Tip Of The Iceberg
In the following articles I hope to get to the root of most sciatic problems AND then move on to what to do about it!