Several lumbar spine (lower back) disorders can cause sciatica. Sciatica is often described as moderate to intense pain at the left or right leg. Sciatica is caused by compression of at least one of the 5 places of nerve roots in the lower spine. Sometimes physicians call a radiculopathy sciatica. Radiculopathy is a term used to refer to pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms or legs brought on by a nerve root issue. If the nerve problem is in the neck, then it is called a cervical radiculopathy. However, because the low back is affected by sciatica, it is called a lumbar radiculopathy.
Pathways to Reduce Nerve Pain
Five sets of nerve roots at the lumbar spine combine to produce the sciatic nerve. Beginning at the back of the pelvis (sacrum), the sciatic nerve runs from the trunk, beneath the buttocks, and downward through the hip place into every leg. Nerve roots aren’t “solitary” structures but are a part of the body’s entire nervous system capable of transmitting pain and sensation to other areas of the human body. Radiculopathy occurs when compression of a nerve due to a disc rupture (herniated disc) or bone spur (osteophyte) occurs in the lumbar spine prior to it joining the sciatic nerve.
What Causes Sciatic Nerve Compression?
Several spinal disorders can lead to nerve compression or lumbar radiculopathy. The 5 are:
- a bulging or herniated disc
- lumbar spinal stenosis
- piriformis syndrome
Lumbar Bulging Disc or Herniated Disc
A bulging disc is also called a contained disc disorder. This usually means the gel-like center (nucleus pulposus) remains “contained” inside the tire-like outer wall (annulus fibrosus) of the disc.
A herniated disc occurs when the nucleus breaks throughout the annulus fibrosus. It’s known as a “non-contained” disc disease. Whether a disc herniates or bulges, disc material can press against an adjacent nerve root and compress lead to sciatica and nerve tissue.
A disc’s consequences are somewhat worse. Not only does the herniated disc cause direct compression of the nerve root from the interior of the bony spinal canal, but also the disc material itself also contains an acidic, chemical irritant (hyaluronic acid) which causes nerve inflammation. In both situations, nerve wracking and irritation cause pain and swelling, muscle weakness, tingling, and often leading to extremity numbness.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a neural compression disease. Leg pain may happen as a result of lumbar spinal stenosis. The pain is usually positional, frequently brought on by activities such as walking or standing and relieved by sitting down.
Spinal nerve roots branch out in the spinal cord called foramina comprised of bone and ligaments. Between each set of vertebral bodies, situated on the right and left sides, is a foramen. Nerve roots pass through these openings and extend outward beyond the spinal column to innervate different parts of the human body. Whenever these passageways become obstructed causing nerve compression or lean, the expression foraminal stenosis is utilized.
Spondylolisthesis is a disorder that most often affects the lumbar spinal column. It’s characterized by a single vertebra slipping forward over an adjacent vertebra. A vertebra slips and is displaced, when, spinal nerve root compression often triggers sciatic leg pain and happens. Spondylolisthesis is categorized as developmental (found at birth, develops during childhood) or acquired from spinal degeneration, injury or physical strain (eg, lifting weights).
Trauma and Injury
Sciatica can result from nerve compression brought on by external forces to the lumbar or sacral nerve roots. Examples include motor vehicle accidents. The impact may injure the nerves or, sometimes, the nerves may be compressed by fragments of bone.
Piriformis syndrome is named after the muscle and the pain caused when the sciatic nerve irritates. The piriformis muscle and the thighbone is located in the lower portion of the spine, connect, and aids in cool rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. When muscle aches grow in the muscle compressing the nerve, Piriformis syndrome develops. It may be difficult to diagnose and treat due to the deficiency of x ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Sciatica
Lower back pain is one of the most commonly reported symptoms among the general population. Sciatica, is well-known group of symptoms, including lower back pain, numbness and tingling sensations, which often describe the source of an individual’s lumbar spine issues. Sciatica can be due to a variety of injuries and/or conditions, such as spinal misalignment, or subluxation, disc herniation and even spinal degeneration.
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