4 Things Cause Sciatica… What's Causing Your Pain?
If you’re reading this article, it’s a good bet that you have a radiating pain running down the back of your leg that just won’t go away. If what I’m about to tell you sounds familiar, don’t worry, help is on the way.
I guarantee you that what you are about to read will likely be far different than what you have read or heard anywhere else!
First, let me tell you why today’s traditional treatment methods for sciatic nerve pain just flat out miss the boat. The medical community is so conditioned and focused on treating only the symptoms and trying to get in as many patients a day as possible, that many people are misdiagnosed and/or mistreated.
In order to get rid of your sciatica you must first know what is causing your pain… there are 4 conditions that can cause sciatica.
The pain is simply caused by pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve and there are primarily four things that can create this… you may have one or more of the following:
Condition #1 – Piriformis Syndrome
The most common cause of sciatic pain and is created when pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle. Muscle imbalances pull the hip joints and pelvis out of place and this changes the positioning of the piriformis muscle, which then places pressure on the sciatic nerve. Whatever the case, muscle imbalances will cause major problems and are the underlying cause of sciatica due to piriformis syndrome.
Condition #2 – Herniated Discs
Pressure caused by a herniated or bulging disc. A herniation is when a disc protrudes out from between the vertebrae and this can either be caused by an event like a car accident, or, by months or years of uneven pressure due to muscle imbalances. This can sometimes cause sciatic pain, but it is also important to note that many people with herniated discs don’t even experience pain or symptoms, and many don’t know they have the condition.
Condition #3 – Spinal Stenosis
Pressure caused by spinal stenosis, which is a decrease in the space between the vertebrae. This is primarily caused by uneven pressure and compression due to muscle imbalances.
Condition #4 – Isthmic Spondylolisthesis
Pressure caused by Isthmic spondylolisthesis which is simply when a vertebrae slips or moves… this can sometimes pinch the sciatic nerve but often times people who have this condition don’t have any sciatic pain, symptoms, or even know they have it!
As you can see, there is a trend here…
In Nearly Every Case Of Sciatica, Muscle Imbalances Are The Primary Cause Of The Pressure Being Placed On The Sciatic Nerve…
If you are not sure which one of the four is causing your sciatica, I recommend you start with the basics. Most cases of sciatic pain are caused by muscle imbalances so if you begin to work on correcting any muscle imbalances you have, you should start to see improvement right away…. and likely eliminate your sciatic pain in a few weeks or less!
There are several self assessments you can perform to help identify which specific muscle imbalances you have and these are covered in our Lose the Back Pain System, along with step-by-step instructions on what to do to eliminate your imbalances and sciatic nerve pain…
Sciatica comes about either due to a traumatic event, muscle imbalances, or a combination of both…
The event scenario is most likely the catalyst for sudden onset of sciatic pain. So what happens… when there is undue stress on the Piriformis muscle that stress causes it to go into spasm and then you have pain due to the Piriformis muscle putting pressure on the sciatic nerve.
In most cases, people go to physical therapy or minimize their physical activity to break the pain – spasm cycle and in most cases your symptoms subside. However…the event will also set you up for a lifetime of sciatic pain if the Piriformis muscle does not recover 100% in both strength and flexibility.
When you have an injury to a muscle, both strength and flexibility are compromised, and if your recovery ends before strength and flexibility return, you will never be 100% and will likely struggle with the problem forever.
The other way sciatic pain creeps into your life is due to your lifestyle and habits, and that is what we like to call the process. The process can be described as a prolonged onset of symptoms based on your everyday activities…
However, from a technical stand point the process really describes the development of the muscle imbalance in your hip. The Piriformis muscle is responsible for external rotation (moving your leg so your feet point outward). So over time that muscle gets tight from the positions you put yourself in and weakens from lack of use.
Let me give you some examples of what I mean:
1. If you sit on the edge of your chair with you legs separated and your feet pointing outward you are keeping your Piriformis muscle in a shortened position and that’s how it gets tight and with extended sitting in that position, it gets weak form lack of use. Hence the imbalance.
2. Another example is runners and bikers who actually work very hard tend to get sciatica because they fail to keep a strength vs. stretch balance in their workouts. Hence the imbalance creates a greater pull toward external rotation and the result is a tight Piriformis and an irritated sciatic nerve creating pain.
These are just two examples of how muscle imbalances can affect the Piriformis muscle and cause sciatic pain. You may not be a runner or cyclist but I’ll bet you have muscle imbalances that are causing your sciatic pain!
So how do you get rid of your sciatic pain?
Will learning one new stretch be enough? It very well may be. However depending on the severity of your condition you may need to change your activities of daily living to include new stretches, new exercises that include the use of the hip rotators like roller-blading, basketball, tennis, etc, and even better, specific corrective exercise specific to your situation… like those covered in our Lose the Back Pain System.
As always, learn as much as you can about your condition, so that you can ask the tough questions to your healthcare providers and get the best care possible.