Back Pain Home > Sciatica Causes

In the majority of cases, the cause of sciatica is linked to a herniated disk. This condition can develop as people age and the discs between the vertebrae begin to lose fluid and flexibility. However, sciatica can also be caused by other things, including spinal stenosis, fracture, infection, tumor, cyst, or degeneration of the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica Causes: An Overview

As people age, the discs between the vertebrae begin to lose fluid and flexibility, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae. These intervertebral discs are under constant pressure. As discs degenerate and weaken, cartilage can bulge or be pushed into the space containing the spinal cord or a nerve root, causing pain. This rupture may put pressure on one of the more than 50 nerves rooted to the spinal cord that control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain. When these nerve roots become compressed or irritated, back pain results. In approximately 90 percent of cases, a herniated disk is the cause of sciatica.

Other Causes

Besides a herniated disc, other sciatica causes include:
Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis related to congenital narrowing of the bony canal can predispose some people to disc disease pain and cause sciatica as a result.
Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease marked by progressive decrease in bone density and strength. When the body fails to produce new bone and/or absorbs too much existing bone, a compression fracture of brittle, porous bones in the spine is the typical result. Women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, and Caucasian women of northern European heritage are at the highest risk of developing this condition.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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