What causes sciatica?

“A pinched nerve” is a better definition for Sciatica. It affects the lower spinal nerve(s). The nerves may be pinched either inside or outside of the canal as it runs through the leg.

The common causes are:

  • Slipped disc, also known as a herniated disc, which exerts pressure on the nerve root.
  • The tiny piriformis muscle is found in the butt. It becomes tight and spasms, and exerts pressure and irritates the sciatic nerve. This is known as piriformis syndrome.
  • The narrowing of the spinal canal pressurizes the nerves. This is called Spinal Stenosis.
  • The vertebra slips and is not in alignment with the one above. This narrows down an opening. It is through this opening, the sciatic nerve exits. This is spondylolisthesis.
  • Very rarely, tumors growing inside along the spinal cord, or sciatic nerve cause sciatica. This tumor, as it grows pressurizes the nerves.
  • Sacroiliitis is the burning sensation in the sacroiliac joint(s), which is the spot where the lower spine and pelvis meet. This causes pain in the butt, lower back, and extends down to one or both legs. Prolonged standing or climbing stairs can worsen the pain. It may be caused by infection, injury, arthritis, or pregnancy.

Other reasons for sciatica could be muscle injuries, such as a fracture or inflammation. Generally, any irritation or compression on the sciatic nerves causes sciatica. Sometimes, the causes are unknown.