What is the Cause of Sciatica? 4 Answers

Sciatica is a type of pain that starts along the path of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back, through the hips, buttocks, and down each leg. While a herniated disc in the spine is the most common cause of sciatica, it is not the only culprit.

woman receiving chiropractic care for sciatica
woman receiving chiropractic care for sciatica

What Can Cause Sciatica?

The causes of sciatica can vary, including the overgrowth of bone, commonly known as a bone spur, or a disc herniation. Certain factors may increase your risk of developing sciatica, such as:

  • Age: As we age, our spine undergoes wear and tear, which can cause sciatic nerve compression.
  • Prolonged sitting: Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Obesity: Being overweight puts extra pressure on the spine and increases the risk of developing sciatica.
  • Occupation: Jobs that involve heavy lifting or prolonged sitting can also increase the risk of sciatica.

Although a herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica, other spinal disorders can also lead to sciatic nerve compression. If you experience symptoms of sciatica, it is essential to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when the space within the spinal column becomes too narrow, leading to compression of the spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spine. While some patients may not experience any symptoms, others may suffer from sciatica pain, as well as:

  • Vertebral fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Bone spurs
  • Thickening of the ligaments that hold the spine together

Spinal stenosis can be caused by several factors, including osteoarthritis, which can cause wear and tear of the spinal joints, leading to the formation of bone spurs that can encroach on the spinal canal. Other causes may include degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, or even spinal tumors. Treatment options for spinal stenosis may include medication, physical therapy, spinal injections, or surgery in severe cases.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is a condition that arises when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve, leading to inflammation. It can occur on either side of the body and cause pain or numbness in the buttock and down the back of the leg. Some common symptoms of piriformis syndrome include:

  • Ache in the buttock
  • Pain down the back of the thigh
  • Pain while walking up stairs or inclines
  • Increased pain after sitting for long periods of time

Piriformis syndrome can be caused by overuse of the piriformis muscle, injury, or anatomical abnormalities. Diagnosis usually involves a physical examination and medical history review.


Spondylolisthesis is a condition that typically affects the lumbar spine and involves the displacement of a vertebra, where the bone slides out of its proper position onto the bone below it. This displacement can occur following a break or fracture, leading to compression and often resulting in sciatica symptoms.

Apart from being congenital or acquired during childhood, spondylolisthesis can also be caused by:

  • Spinal degeneration
  • Physical trauma
  • Physical stressors from activities like weightlifting or gymnastics

Diagnosis usually involves a physical exam, X-rays, and other imaging tests.

Getting Treatment for Sciatica

Optimal Spine & Posture has assisted numerous patients who have suffered from sciatica and are seeking effective treatment methods. Many of these patients have found relief from sciatica symptoms and have experienced an improvement in their overall well-being. Corrective chiropractic care has been found to be highly effective in treating sciatica and improving quality of life for those affected by the condition. If you’re experiencing sciatica symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek help from a qualified healthcare professional.

At Optimal Spine & Posture, we offer a comprehensive evaluation process that includes a variety of diagnostic tests and assessments. These evaluations are designed to help us understand your specific needs and develop a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs. Our evaluation process includes:

  • Timeline history
  • 3-Dimensional posture assessment
  • Orthopedic, neurological, and physical exam
  • Spinal radiographs (if needed)
  • Digital biomechanical analysis of your spine

Once we have completed the evaluation process, we will schedule a separate appointment to go over the results with you. During this appointment, we will discuss what is going on with your body, whether we can help, and what the best next step is for you. We will also provide you with an estimate of any investment necessary to achieve your health goals. Our goal is to empower you with the knowledge and resources you need to make informed decisions about your health and well-being.

If you continue to struggle with sciatica pain give us a call at Optimal Spine & Posture (208) 748-5909 or schedule an appointment online. Contact us today or stop by the office. We’re located at 6744 N Glenwood St Boise, ID 83714 

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