Sciatica Causes: The sciatic nerve forms by the union of Lumbar4 to Sacral31 nerve roots and exits the pelvis through the greater sciatic foramen, below the piriformis muscle located deep in the buttocks. The nerve runs down the back of the thigh, into the leg, and ends in the foot. The sciatic nerve becomes inflamed, irritated, and/or mechanically compressed. Any type of pain and/or neurological symptom/s from the sciatic nerve is referred to as sciatica. Sciatica is a type of lumbar radiculopathy, which means that the pain originates from the low back and/or sacral nerve roots.
Physical forces on the nerve can cause mechanical compression due to the following conditions:
Individuals with specific jobs have an increased risk of developing sciatica. Examples include:
Sitting and standing for long periods, using improper posture, constantly bending, twisting, reaching, and regularly lifting are risk factors for sciatica.
Piriformis syndrome is a condition where the piriformis muscle swells and spasms from overuse or inflammation irritating the sciatic nerve that is right underneath. The nerve can get trapped in the muscle causing sciatica-like symptoms that include:
Discomfort from piriformis syndrome feels similar to sciatica, but it is not caused by compressed sciatic nerve root. Piriformis pain comes from compression of the sciatic nerve near the piriformis muscle.
Sciatica caused by degenerated and/or herniated discs can be genetic. Research has shown that certain genetic factors are more prevalent in individuals with back and spinal problems. These congenital disabilities can cause the discs to become weak and susceptible to external stress. With time the proteins in the disc break down, compromising the integrity and function.
Arthritis or other inflammatory conditions around the hip joint can cause pain down the leg, similar to sciatica. This is referred pain that spreads out from the source and is not radicular nerve pain that originates in the nerve roots.
High cholesterol can lead to severe consequences when left untreated, but it can be difficult to spot with no noticeable warning signs. This is why it’s essential to monitor cholesterol levels with blood tests, especially if there is an increased risk. Example of normal cholesterol levels for adults 20 years of age or older:
Davis D, Maini K, Vasudevan A. Sciatica. [Updated 2021 Sep 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507908/
Giuffre BA, Jeanmonod R. Anatomy, Sciatic Nerve. [Updated 2021 Jul 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482431/
Hicks BL, Lam JC, Varacallo M. Piriformis Syndrome. [Updated 2021 Jul 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448172/
Raj MA, Ampat G, Varacallo M. Sacroiliac Joint Pain. [Updated 2021 Aug 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470299/
The information herein on "Sciatica Causes: Genetics, Low Back Problems, Piriformis, Arthritis" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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