Causes of Sciatica Pain

Sciatica nerve

Sciatica

is a nerve that connects our upper body to our lower parts.

Sciatica pain

is primarily caused by a compressed lumbar nerve. Either by a single nerve position, L3, L4, L5 or a combination thereof. Other causes also can originate from sacral nerves S1, S2, or S3. The pain can also be a result of a compressed sciatic nerve. Please see attached anatomical model diagram below to locate the positions of lumbar nerves, sacral nerves and the sciatic nerve itself.

The term lumbar radiculopathy is when the sciatica is affected by the compression of a radix (dorsal nerve root), or considered radiculitis when associated with inflammation. The occurrence is a result of a spinal disk bulge or from a herniated spinal disc. Other causes are from the degeneration of the discs which can cause roughness, enlargement or even misalignment of the vertebrae. Disc degeneration can also cause the reduction of the opening diameter of the (neural foramen) where nerve roots passes through the spine.

Intervertebral discs has a tough outer cover called annulus fibrosus and a jelly like interior element called nucleus pulposus. A tear to the annulus fibrosus, may cause a pulp (nucleus pulposus) to excrete through the tear and build pressure against spinal nerves or exits to the nerve roots which causes inflammation and severe pain. A compressed nerve root is a common form of radiculopathy.

Pseudosciatica (non-discogenic sciatica) has the same symptoms as a compressed spinal nerve root. Pain from pseudosciatica is frequently associated with some damage to the facet joints in the lower back area. The pain is felt on the lower back and emanating to the thighs. A facet joint is where two bones (vertebrae) are joined, i.e. elbow, wrist, shoulder, knees, lower back and etc. Articular cartilages are formed on each end of the two bones allowing movement with very little friction.

Sciatica Nerve Diagram Sciatica Nerve Diagram showing the lumbar nerves L3, L4 and L5. Sacral nerve S1 position.

Other contributors to sciatica pain

  • A slipped disc sustained from a car or sports injury. Shock from these types of injuries causes the disc (intervertebral disc) to be misaligned from the spine vertebrae. Each disc creates a cushioning effect and performs much like a shock absorber. The disc misalignment causes friction between the bones and pain from this type of injury may be accumulating over time rather than instantaneous.
  • Pregnancy
  • Fractures to the pelvic bone
  • Tumors

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