Many people suffer from sciatica, a painful lower back condition caused by a pinched nerve.
Sciatica can cause severe mobility problems and debilitating pain.
In serious cases, the condition can lead to progressive lower extremity weakness, numbness in the upper thighs, and/or loss of bladder or bowel control (1).
What Is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, extending from the lower (lumbar) part of the spinal column, through the buttocks, down into the legs. That’s why sciatica causes pain that radiates through the whole lower body, typically only affecting one side at a time (2).
There can be a few different conditions that cause sciatic nerve pain, and doctors often miss some of the most common causes.
The most common diagnosed cause of sciatica is a herniated disc that presses on the sciatic nerve. Any pressure or irritation of the sciatic nerve at any point can cause pain whether the source of the irritation is an adjacent muscle, bone, or tumor (3).
Sometimes, though, a healthcare provider cannot pinpoint the origin of the irritation/inflammation, having ruled out the common diagnosis.
See also: sciatica stretches
The Hidden Cause
In many cases, the cause of sciatica pain is actually a tight or misaligned muscle.