Sciatica is a symptom of a problem with the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. It controls muscles in the back of your knee and lower leg and provides feeling to the back of your thigh, part of your lower leg, and the sole of your foot. When you have sciatica, you have pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling. It can start in the lower back and extend down your leg to your calf, foot, or even your toes. It’s usually on only one side of your body. Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is caused by injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is a symptom of another medical problem, not a medical condition on its own. Common causes of sciatica include:
As a disc degenerates and breaks down, the inner core can leak out through the outer portion of the disc, and this condition is known as a disc herniation or a herniated disc. A herniated disk refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (disks) between the individual bones (vertebrae) that stack up to make your spine. A herniated disk can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. General symptoms typically include one or a combination of the following:
Most herniated disks occur in your lower back (lumbar spine), although they can also occur in your neck (cervical spine).
Degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine, or lower back, refers to a syndrome in which a compromised disc causes low back pain. Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back pain and neck pain, and also one of the most misunderstood. Simply put, degenerative disc disease describes the symptoms of pain and possibly radiating weakness or numbness stemming from a degenerated disc in the spine. Although there is a slight genetic component to individuals who suffer from DDD, the true cause is probably multifactorial. It could be from simple wear and tear, or may have a traumatic cause. However, it rarely starts from a major trauma such as a car accident.
The spine condition called isthmic spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebral body slips forward on the one below it because of a small fracture in a piece of bone that connects the two joints on the back side of the spinal segment. Spondylolisthesis refers to the forward displacement, or slippage, of a vertebra from its normal position. Upon diagnosis, the degree of slippage is determined radiographically. Slippage is measured in terms of grades. The cause of isthmic spondylolisthesis are fibrous defects (healed or unhealed stress fractures surrounded by fibrous tissue) in the vertebra which allow forward slippage of the vertebra over time. There also can be a fracture of the pars interarticularis without a vertebral slip. The fracture itself is known as a spondylolysis.
A common cause of low back and leg pain is lumbar spinal stenosis. As we age, our spines change. These normal wear-and-tear effects of aging can lead to narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition is called spinal stenosis. When the spinal nerves in the lower back are choked, lumbar spinal stenosis occurs and most often leads to leg pain and other symptoms. The typical symptom is increased pain in the legs with walking (pseudoclaudication), which can markedly diminish one’s activity level. Patients with lumbar spinal stenosis are typically comfortable at rest but cannot walk far without developing leg pain. Lumbar stenosis symptoms may include:
When a patient presents with the typical symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis (leg pain, with or without back pain, which is aggravated by walking), a conclusive diagnosis is made using imaging studies from an MRI scan or a CT scan with myelogram.
Arthritis is the most common cause of spinal stenosis. Arthritis refers to degeneration of any joint in the body. In the spine, arthritis can result as the disk degenerates and loses water content.
Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder that is caused when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. This muscle is important in lower body movement because it stabilizes the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. The piriformis muscle can also irritate the nearby sciatic nerve and cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot The exact causes of piriformis syndrome are unknown. Suspected causes include:
Diagnosis of piriformis syndrome is made by the patient’s report of symptoms and by physical exam using a variety of movements to elicit pain to the piriformis muscle.
Dysfunction in the sacroiliac joint, or SI joint, is thought to cause low back and/or leg pain. The leg pain can be particularly difficult, and may feel similar to sciatica or pain caused by a lumbar disc herniation. As with most other joints in the body, the SI joints have a cartilage layer covering the bone. The cartilage allows for some movement and acts as a shock absorber between the bones. When this cartilage is damaged or worn away, the bones begin to rub on each other, and degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) occurs.
Scoliosis is a condition that affects the spine and can appear Low-back pain is a unique issue in that it can vary in its One of the most common issues that women face when they are For some women, pregnancy is very easy and they happily carry Back pain can make it difficult to get a decent night’s One of the things that everyone has in common is that we all Many people are prone to back pain, and experience difficulty Back pain during pregnancy is a common problem and it is not Spring is a popular time for sports. The winter is over and Chronic pain is a common issue for many individuals. Presently,
Scoliosis is a condition that affects the spine and can appear
Low-back pain is a unique issue in that it can vary in its
One of the most common issues that women face when they are
For some women, pregnancy is very easy and they happily carry
Back pain can make it difficult to get a decent night’s
One of the things that everyone has in common is that we all
Many people are prone to back pain, and experience difficulty
Back pain during pregnancy is a common problem and it is not
Spring is a popular time for sports. The winter is over and
Chronic pain is a common issue for many individuals. Presently,