The term 'sciatica' describes pain along the course of the sciatic nerve in the lumbar spine that causes pain to radiate from the back down the leg in the distribution innervated by one of five distinct nerves: L1 = groin, L2 = upper thigh, L3 = middle thigh, L4 = knee, L5 = shin, top of foot, big toe, S1 = lateral calf, heel, bottom of foot (caused by a herniated disc chemical irritation from an annular tear).
Bulging, protruding, or extruded herniated discs may cause back pain and sciatica. This diagnosis usually indicates a more serious condition where surgery may be considered.
Lumbar spondylosis, facet arthrosis is a common condition that is present in every patient as his/her spine ages. This condition is a degeneration of the spine that can affect the spine at any level, resulting in pain and discomfort that can grow worse over time.
Spinal Stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. Some common factors contributing to the development of spinal stenosis:
- The process of aging leads to degeneration in the spine that may create bony spurs and outgrowths on spinal vertebrae. These osteophytes can extend in the direction of the spinal canal and place pressure on neural elements.
- Stress and degeneration of the spinal ligaments over a lifetime may lead to thickening of these ligaments. The spinal canal can also be narrowed this way.
- As we age, changes in the stability of the spine cause the posterior joints (facet joints) to become loosened with stress. This stress on the facet joints can cause hypertrophy (overgrowth) of the joints and surrounding capsules, which in turn further narrows the spinal canal and can place pressure on central and exiting neural elements.