Sciatica is the radiating pain we feel in our lower back, and leg(s), which is caused by a pinched nerve in this part of the back. It usually affects only one side of the body.
The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, to the buttocks and down the back of one or both legs. It’s the largest and longest nerve in our body. It is formed by many nerve roots, or fibers, coming from the spine canal, which then thread to form the sciatic nerve, which is as thick as a man’s thumb at its largest point.
The nerve runs below the piriformis muscle located in the buttocks, and then travels down the back of the leg. It divides into two nerves above the back of the knee, which serve the lower leg and foot.
- Pain in the lower back, buttock, and back of one or both legs
- Paresthesia- sensation of pinching, burning and tingling, more known as ‘pins and needles’
- Numbness in the leg(s) and/or feet
- Weakness that can make your knees bend when standing up from a sitting position
- Weakened reflexes in your knee and Achilles tendon
- Inability to flex your ankles enough to walk on your heels, a condition called ‘Foot drop’
- Degenerative disc disease. A weakened disc can cause immoderate micro motion at that level of the spine, exposing inflammatory proteins from the disc, resulting in irritation of that area.
- Lumbar herniated disc. Also known as bulging disc, slipped disc, protruding disc, ruptured disc, or a pinched nerve.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis. This condition is caused by a fracture, or defect of the bone which connects the two facet joints. It results in one vertebra slipping forward on top of the one below it.
- Piriformis syndrome. It happens when a nerve root from the sciatic nerve gets pinched by a tighten piriformis muscle.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis. It is caused by narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower area of the back.
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Irritation or pain of the sacroiliac joints.
- Muscle strain. The inflammation caused by a muscle strain can press a nerve root.
- Scar tissue. Compression of the nerve root by a scar tissue.
- Pregnancy. Hormonal changes, shift in the center of gravity, or weight gain during pregnancy can cause sciatic nerve pain.
- Spinal tumor. Tumors located in this area of the back can put pressure on a nerve root.
Discover the Root Cause of Your Pain
It is very important to consult a physiotherapist or an osteopath to find out the root cause of your sciatica, as every human’s body is different. You can try the FAIR test just to get an idea yourself. Take a side-lying position, so that the affected leg is the one on top.
Next, see if it’s painful to move the top leg into 90-degree flexion, adduction, and internal rotation, as presented in the video below.
If you have sharp pain in the hip, you probably have tight piriformis that causes sciatic nerve pain.
The Yoga Solution
The sciatica pain can be significantly reduced by doing hip openers and hamstring stretches. The following 7 yoga poses will help sooth your pain. Do them every day.