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Spine Surgery Guide

Symptoms of Sciatica

Sciatica is a common symptom of several different medical conditions, the most pervasive being a herniated (slipped) disc.
The spinal column is made up of three parts:
  • Vertebrae (individual bones in the spine that protect underlying nerves)
  • Nerves
  • Discs

A disc is made of a strong and resilient type of tissue (cartilage), and acts as a cushion between each vertebrae and allows the spine to be flexible. A herniated disc occurs when a disc is temporarily pushed out of place and puts pressure on the sciatic nerve.
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Other causes of sciatica include:
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis - a narrowing of the spinal cord (a channel within the vertebrae that contains the nerves) in the lower back that may compress the sciatic nerve.
  • Spondylolisthesis - a condition in which a disc may slip forward over the vertebra below it, pinching the sciatic nerve.
  • Tumors within the spine may compress the root of the sciatic nerve.
  • Infection within the spine.
  • Injury within the spine.
  • Cauda equina syndrome - a rare, but serious condition that affects the nerves on the lower part of the spinal cord; it requires immediate medical attention. Cauda equina syndrome may permanently damage the nervous system and even lead to paralysis.

In many cases of sciatica there is no single obvious cause. Anything that irritates the sciatic nerve can produce sciatic pain. However, it is thought that a combination of muscle, joint and bone strain may lead to sciatica, which is why it is more common in people over 40.
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Created On: March 4, 2008 Updated On:
Author : Dr. Sarita Kumawat  
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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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