Sciatica Causes

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Discover The 8 Common Sciatica Causes 


What’s sciatica and what are the different sciatica causes and treatment that you should know about? If you suffer from sciatica, knowing what causes sciatica is vital in your healing and recovery. This will help make sure that your condition does not become permanent and irreversible.

Before we go over the causes of sciatica, let’s first go over what sciatica is so that you understand your condition.

The symptoms of sciatica can include any or all of the following: low back pain, buttocks pain, back of the thigh pain, leg pain, calf pain, foot pain. You may also feel low back numbness, back of the thigh numbness, leg numbness, calf numbness, foot numbness. Also, you may feel tingling or burning sensations in these areas.


image of a sciatica pain pattern of sciatica patients who need sciatica treatment

The red area above shows the path of the sciatic nerve
highlighting areas where you can feel sciatica symptoms.


If your sciatic nerve is pinched hard enough, or if your sciatica does not get corrected fully… or soon enough… your sciatica nerve pain, numbness or tingling may later be accompanied by or replaced by weakness of your affected leg muscles… causing “foot drop.” This will make it hard for you to stand up on your tip toes, you may have to drag your foot when you walk or when you go up stairs.  Sciatica is usually on one side only, but some people experience sciatica on both sides.

Have you ever seen people limping and dragging one foot when they walk?  They might have uncorrected sciatica.

So what is sciatica caused by?

Sciatica is caused by pinching of your sciatic nerve… or of any of the nerve roots that come out of your low back spine to form your sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is made up of five smaller nerves (L4, L5, S1, S2, S3) that arise from the spine and join together to form one large nerve… which is about the size of our pinky.

In general, sciatica causes either pinch or irritate the sciatic nerve. Here are 4 reasons for sciatica nerve pain, numbness, tingling or weakness:

  1. Lumbar disc herniation or “ruptured disc”
  2. A misaligned vertebra such as a forward slip of the vertebra called “spondylolisthesis”
  3. Pressure from an arthritic spur off the spine where the nerve exits or “spinal stenosis”
  4. A tumor near or around the sciatic nerve

When looking for the answer to what can cause sciatica, keep in mind that there are also other conditions that can cause “sciatica-like” symptoms.  These are technically not sciatica, but the symptoms are the same.  These conditions include:

  1. An irritated piriformis muscle – the sciatic nerve can also get pinched by the piriformis muscle where the nerve passes through the pelvis (in the “cheek” or, the buttocks), which has been commonly referred to as “wallet sciatica”… since sitting on the wallet in the back pocket is often the cause.
  2. Referred pain from the facet joints which is described by the patient as a “deep ache” inside the leg.
  3. A metabolic condition where the nerve is affected such as diabetes and other conditions.
  4. Direct trauma to the buttocks like from falling or from hitting the sciatic nerve during an injection into the buttocks.

Out of all the causes of sciatica, perhaps the most common cause of sciatica is a lumbar disc herniation or a lumbar disc bulge. 

Image of a lumbar MRI showing a herniated disc that's one of the causes of sciatica

This lumbar MRI shows what can cause sciatica nerve pain
– a lumbar herniated disc and bulged disc


The above 8 causes of sciatica should answer questions from sciatica sufferers… questions that include, “What causes sciatica pain in leg,” “What causes the sciatic nerve to hurt?” “What is the cause of sciatic nerve pain?” “What is the cause of sciatica pain?” Some even ask, “What is the sciatica?” and “What causes sciatic nerve?”

Even after they find out the 8 common sciatica causes, sciatica sufferers often want to know… what causes these 8 causes of sciatica in the first place? A very valid and smart question.

There is ONE COMMON CONDITION that if left uncorrected, 
leads to 4 out of the 8 of the sciatica causes discussed above. 

In his book, “How To Relieve Sciatica And Avoid Back Surgery,” Dr. John Falkenroth, D.C. takes one step back and dives deeper into what causes the conditions that commonly cause sciatica. In one of the book’s chapters titled, “How Sciatica Usually Starts And How It Gets Worse,” Dr. Falkenroth demonstrates one common condition that happens to many people that can lead to 4 of the 8 causes of sciatica.

Dr. Falkenroth is the Clinic Director at the Back Pain And Sciatica Clinic in Soquel, CA. After over 16 years in practice, he has helped over 3,500 patients… many of them suffered from debilitating sciatica.

Dr. Falkenroth’s sciatica book will also show you some little-known sciatica treatments and sciatica remedies… many of them you can do at home. To get a FREE copy of Dr. Falkenroth’s sciatica book titled, “How To Relieve Sciatica And Avoid Back Surgery,” click on the FREE SCIATICA BOOK box below.

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