What Is The Cause Of Sciatica?

When sciatica first hits, our physical therapy patients always start their 1st visit with the same question:

What Caused My Sciatica?

It can be very difficult to figure out how back pain started.  In general, there are many medical issues that can lead to back pain and significant sciatica issues.  That being said, there are 3 common causes of back pain.

Herniated Disc

Those people with sciatica stemming from a herniated disc usually have pain bending forward, twisting, coughing, or sneezing.  The sciatica pain they experience is usually sharp and runs specifically down the back of the leg, possibly into the foot.  Herniated disc sufferers are usually 35 years of age or younger, typically.

Stenosis or Arthritis

Answer the following 3 questions:  Are you 50 years of age or older?  Do you have pain with standing or walking?  Do you get relief from your back pain by sitting down?  If you answered yes to all 3 of these questions, then your sciatica pain is most likely coming from a stenosis or arthritis issue.

SI or Pelvic Joint Problems

Those people that have SI joint or pelvic issues usually have pain with sitting for long periods.  The sciatica that they experience is usually on the outside part of the thigh.  General symptoms of this type of sciatica include heaviness of one leg over another or feeling twisted, overall.

Now that you have a handle on the tops causes of sciatica, the solutions can be found.  We stick to our 3 Phases of Healing for all our back pain and sciatica suffers.  But this leads into the next question that we always get asked: how long will it take for me to get better with physical therapy? 

That's a great, fair question.  Don't worry, we will be exploring the answer to that question in depth in our next blog!

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Dr. Asha Koshy is a Physical Therapist and co-owner of Complete Physical Rehabilitation in Jersey City and Elizabeth, NJ.

She is a McKenzie certified back pain Physical Therapist specialist, an LSVT BIG certified specialist for Parkinson's Disease, and also specializes in treating Vestibular conditions relating to vertigo, dizziness, and other balance disorders.