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Sciatica Pain - What Can Trigger It?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Aditya S Bhati 90% (10 ratings)
MBBS, DNB - Neurosurgery, Fellowship in Neurosurgery
Neurosurgeon, Delhi  •  15 years experience
Sciatica Pain - What Can Trigger It?

Sciatica is a neurological condition that mainly arises due to problems in the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is believed to be the largest nerve originating from the spinal nerves L4 to S3. It extends downward from the lower spine into the back of each leg (thighs) right down to the foot. The sciatic nerve acts as a connecting link between the spinal cord and the foot and the leg muscles. People with sciatica often experience a tingling sensation along with a shooting pain radiates downwards from the lower back (mostly the lumbar region) to the back of one of the legs. Some may also experience the sciatic pain down both the legs (rare).

Types of Sciatic Pain:

Sciatica that affects a person can be of two types depending on the severity of the associated symptoms

  • Acute sciatic pain: In this case, a person experiences a sudden radiating pain which often heals by itself within a week or two. More than often, the pain is triggered by an injury to the spinal joints, nerves, or the disc.
  • Chronic sciatic pain: This is a more serious condition where the pain may linger for long, often more than three months. The chronic sciatic pain may affect a person with severe Arthritis and nerve injury and damage.

Symptoms associated with Sciatica:

  • One of the characteristic symptoms of Sciatica is a shooting pain that radiates from the lower back (often the lumbar) to the back of one (or both) of the legs.
  • In some, the sciatic pain may result in weakness and a tingling sensation down the affected leg.
  • A person with sciatica may find it difficult to move his/her foot and legs (restricts their movement).
  • Some people may experience a shooting pain even while they are in a sitting position. In some others, the pain may be at its worst when a person is in a standing position.
  • Sciatica can also trigger a hip pain.

What triggers sciatica and the associated symptoms?

  • The disc is a protective shield that prevents any damage or injury to the vertebrae. A degenerative disc problem can interfere with the normal functioning of the disc triggering sciatica.
  • Spondylolisthesis: In Spondylolisthesis, also known as a Slip Disc, a bone (mostly in the lumbar region) slips over the bone which is located just below it. People with prolonged and untreated spondylolisthesis are often known to suffer from sciatica.
  • The sciatic pain can also affect a woman during her pregnancy.
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis: This condition is is characterized by the spinal canal narrowing down in the lumbar region. Lumbar spinal stenosis exerts pressure on the sciatic nerve, giving rise to sciatica.
  • A muscular strain or spasm in the buttocks can also be a contributing factor.

Proper management and prevention for sciatica are possible. One should be alert and consult a doctor in case they experience the associated symptoms or any discomfort.

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