A human spine is made up of 33 bone segments that are referred to as vertebrae. The vertical vertebrae are connected through ligaments that are attached to the muscles by tendons. Between each vertebra are gel-like cushions called intervertebral discs. These discs are made up of nucleus pulosus – a semi-fluid matter – which is covered by a capsule of elastic fibers called annulus fibrosus.
Intervertebral disc damage in a person’s lumbar or the spine’s sacral region (lower back) is the most common cause for sciatica. An irritated, inflamed, or compressed sciatic nerve or nerve root results in sciatica. This often happens due to a ruptured, herniated, or slipped disk.
Pressure on the sciatic nerve root can also cause wear and tear on the vertebrae and lead to sciatica. Usual culprits of damaged vertebrae are aging and degenerative disc diseases like osteoarthritis. Sciatic nerve inflammation or compression that leads to sciatica may also happen due to:
There are rare cases when sciatica is caused by a metastasized cancer tumor or cyst. There are also sciatica conditions that are idiopathic, or those cases that occur without a known or identifiable cause.
These are factors that increase a person’s risk of developing sciatica:
If sciatica is left unresolved, it may result in permanent nerve damage. Immobility, partial, or complete loss of leg sensation, and recurring leg injuries are just some of the complications that may occur if sciatica’s underlying causes are left untreated.