If you suffer from sciatica, the pain is hard to miss. In mild sciatica, all you may feel is a numb sensation or tingling in your buttocks and legs. However, in severe cases, you may feel incapacitated by shooting pains in the lower back and legs.
Whether sciatica is bearable or unbearable depends on its cause, of which these are the most common:
- Herniated discs – When a lumbar disc becomes misaligned in the spinal column, it is said to have slipped, ruptured, or ‘herniated.’ Discs herniate either from injury or progressive causes (usually genetic or age-based).
- Spinal stenosis – As the body ages, the spinal column may undergo stenosis (abnormal narrowing). This causes soft tissue to impinge on the spinal column or nearby nerves.
- Degenerative disc disease – Also related to age, DDD makes discs weaken and bulge over time. When this happens, the exposed discs press against nearby nerves, causing sciatic pain.
- Sacroiliac joint irritation – If the sacroiliac joint presses against the L5 nerve just above it, this causes pain similar to sciatica.
- Piriformis pressure – The piriformis is a buttock muscle. Occasionally, it can pinch the sciatic nerve root and cause pain that mimics sciatica.