Sciatica sounds like one of those things that you only get when you’re old. You can probably even hear your uncle saying something like, “My sciatica’s acting up again!” while he grabs his backside. But sciatica can be a problem for people of any age. No matter how old you are or why you have sciatica, the pain is just as excruciating.
Fortunately, there are treatments that can provide some relief. Here’s a look at what causes the sciatica, as well as some information on sciatica treatment:
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica is caused by the sciatic nerve becoming pinched. This nerve runs from your lower back through the buttocks and down the length of the leg to the foot. The nerve can become pinched by a herniated disc, a bone spur (overgrowth of bone) on your spine, or a tumor. You can also get sciatica when your sciatic nerve is damaged by disease, such as diabetes.
Certain factors can increase your risk of sciatica. For example, your risk can increase as you age because of physical changes in your body. You are more likely to get a herniated disc or a bone spur as you age, and those things can pinch the sciatic nerve.
Obesity can also increase your risk of sciatica. The excess body weight can put pressure on the spine, and changes in your spine can end up pinching your sciatic nerve.
Prolonged sitting is also a risk factor for sciatica. Prolonged sitting causes misalignment of your spine, which can put pressure on the nerve. Work that requires long stretches of sitting increases your risk of sciatica. So does work that requires you to twist your back or carry heavy loads, as these movements can increase your risk of getting a herniated disc or other back problems that can compress your nerve.
Finally, having diabetes increases your risk of sciatica since it can cause nerve damage.
Sciatica is pretty easy to recognize. You will get a searing, sudden pain that may start in your lower back or buttocks and will shoot down your thigh and possibly to your calf. You can feel pain anywhere along your nerve, but the buttocks and the thigh are the most likely locations.
You might feel the pain suddenly and quickly, like a bolt running down your leg. You might also feel the pain come on quickly but stay for a while. It can feel burning or pulsating, and sharp movements can bring it on or aggravate it.
Though you have a sciatic nerve on both sides of your body, the pain is usually limited to only one side. However, you may have numbness on the other side.