What Causes Sciatic Nerve Pain?

Sciatic Nerve Pain is one of the most common complaints that people go to the doctor for each year. 

People often think that the sciatic nerve gets injured with one specific movement or incident, but the truth is that most sciatic nerve pain is ‘cumulative trauma’ type injuries.


What is a Cumulative Trauma Injury?

A cumulative trauma injury is one that happens over the course of time and not with one specific incident. When someone has sciatic nerve pain, they often think it’s because of the one time they lifted a grocery bag or the huge swing they just took during golf. 

On the contrary, what we find is that one instance described above is simply ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back.’  This means that even though you felt sudden back, leg, and sciatic nerve pain during that one activity, it was more likely that the it had been building over months and years. 

Another example: Take out a paper clip. Now, bend the paper clip one time. What happened? Probably nothing. But now, keep bending the paper clip. Eventually, it will break. This is the exact same thing that happens in a cumulative trauma injury. Eventually, if you do the wrong thing with your body over and over, it will break.


What Spinal Structures are Affected During Sciatic Nerve Pain?

Believe it or not, the sciatic nerve is not the main culprit in most sciatic nerve injuries, it’s just where you feel the pain.

Most times, the nerve roots that come out of your lower back or lumbar spine are what sends the shooting pain down your leg and results in sciatic nerve pain.

Spinal Structures are Affected During Sciatic Nerve Pain

It usually starts with an injury to the lower back, which in turn causes a cascade of inflammation in that area. Once the inflammation occurs, it can envelope the nerve roots of the spine which supply the sciatic nerve. This is typically why the pain will shoot down the leg causing sciatic nerve pain. 


What Does My Posture Have to Do With Sciatic Nerve Pain?

People that have desk jobs or sit for most of the day are more prone to sciatica or sciatic nerve pain. The reason is due to the position that sitting puts your lower back in. 

Sitting is a flexed posture and this puts the spinal discs and nerves in a compromised position. The more time you spend in that position, the more likely you are to have sciatic nerve pain.

Dr. Justin Rabinowitz

Dr. Justin Rabinowitz


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