Even with it being a common source of lower back pain often felt in the thighs, hips, buttocks, and legs, the sciatic nerve is something many people who experience back pain don’t fully understand. About the width of your thumb, the sciatic nerve is the longest single nerve in the human body. Beverly Hills spine specialists explain why this nerve causes pain that can range from a minor distraction to a major annoyance.
An Important Part of the Lower Spine
Consisting of 5 nerve roots, the sciatic nerve is an integral part of the lower spine. Located near the piriformis muscle, which helps your hips rotate, this nerve separates into 2 nerves at your knee and travels down to different parts of your foot.
Many Potential Contributing Sources
Sciatic nerve pain, referred to as sciatica, is not a condition itself. It is a series of symptoms often linked to an underlying structural issue, with common sources including:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis, which involves a narrowing of the lower spinal canal
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spondylolisthesis, a slipped vertebra
- Muscle spasms
Why It Hurts So Much
The complexity and length of the sciatic nerve make it a potential source of lingering pain. For instance, the piriformis muscle can become irritated from some type of trauma or injury and press on sciatic nerve roots, which is called piriformis syndrome. Sciatic nerve pain can also be difficult to diagnose because pain can be felt in different parts of your lower body, depending on where a nerve is being compressed.
Contributing SI Joint Issues
Radiating lower back pain is sometimes related to a combination of pressure along the sciatic nerve and issues with the sacroiliac (SI) joint, located in the pelvis. Connected by strong ligaments, it can also be affected by nerve irritation and related inflammation.
Treatment for sciatic nerve pain rarely requires surgery unless other remedies fail to provide relief. Patients often respond well to non-surgical spine treatments like anti-inflammatory drugs, epidural steroid injections, and the application of heat or ice for 20 minutes at a time.
To learn more about the sciatic nerve and its influence on back pain, reach out to the specialists at The Spine Institute. We offer a wide variety of surgical and non-surgical spine procedures, including the cervical artificial disc replacement, lumbar interbody fusion, and foraminotomy Beverly Hills clients have opted to receive. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person consultation.