Sciatica is a fairly common problem that typically produces leg pain. It is caused by pressure or injury to the sciatic nerve. Most of the time, sciatica is caused by pressure on the nerve or irritation of the nerve, and if the pressure or irritation is relieved, the symptoms can improve. Sometimes sciatica is caused by actual damage to the nerve, which means there is a much lower chance of improvement.
There are several causes of irritation, pressure or injury of the sciatic nerve, and any of these can produce sciatica.
Causes of Sciatica
Weight gain is one of the common causes of sciatica. The weight gain or fluid retention of pregnancy can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain, tingling, sensory loss or even weakness. Typically, once weight reduces almost to normal, the symptoms of sciatica improve. Interestingly, some women experience sciatica during early to mid pregnancy, and then experience resolution of symptoms after gaining additional weight later in pregnancy; this may be due to redistribution of the pressure on the nerve.
Weight gain from any other cause, such as medication side effects, can also cause sciatica.
Obesity or being overweight may cause excess physical pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain and tingling. Generally, weight loss the most effective solution for sciatica that is due to obesity.
A herniated disk means that one or more of the cartilaginous disks that separate and support the individual spinal vertebrae of the backbone is out of place. The movement of the structures of the backbone, including the cartilaginous disks, the bony vertebrae or the supportive structures, may put pressure on the nerve or the spinal cord. A herniated disk involving the lower lumbar spine or the sacral spine can put pressure on the nerve roots that comprise the sciatic nerve, producing sciatica. This may happen suddenly due to trauma or to gradual, degenerative disease of the spine.
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