As working mums we sit in static postures for long periods of time at work and when we get home we are busy with the kids and household chores. This lifestyle plus our poor postures put excessive stresses on the spine & joints and can potentially lead to spinal problems such as arthritis. Spinal arthritis can in turn lead to many other problems in the body, one of which is Sciatica. Lets discuss if spinal arthritis can cause sciatica in this blog.
Our spine is made up of vertebras that are stacked on top of each other. In between every two vertebra there is a jelly like structure known as a disc, that acts as a shock absorber and provides a cushioning effect between the two bony hard vertebras. This is similar to when you pack two porcelain plates together and put a thick paper or foam layer between them to avoid the plates from rubbing on each other. The disc does the same by avoiding bone on bone contact between the two adjacent vertebra.
In addition to these structures, there are nerves that exit the spine between every two vertebra and these supply specific parts of the body. Example: nerves that exit your neck supply the shoulder, forearm all the way to the fingers.
Watch this video to learn more about Spinal Arthritis:
Spinal arthritis can lead to degenerative changes (wear and tear) in the spine. These include development of osteophytes or bony spurs along the edges of the vertebra so they are no longer smooth and even. These osteophytes can irritate the nearby nerves. There can also be wedging of the vertebra where the vertebra assumes a wedge shape as it looses its calcium content (osteoporosis). These can put undue pressure on the surrounding structures such as the muscles, ligaments and nerves. Spinal arthritis can also manifest as loss in the disc height, which causes the vertebras to move closer together thus exerting a pressure on the nerves exiting from the side of the spine, thus resulting in nerve pain.
When these changes occur in the lumbar spine they can irritate or compress the sciatic nerve and cause nerve pain anywhere along the buttock, hamstrings (back of thigh), calf (back of leg) to the tips of your toes. This is known as Sciatica. Sciatic nerve exits the lumbar spine from many levels and is the longest and thickest nerve in the body, thereby increasing its chances of being irritated or compressed.
In conclusion, spinal arthritis can cause sciatica, but it depends on what changes have occurred in the spine and the extent of these changes. Not everyone with spinal arthritis will suffer from sciatica and sciatica can be caused by multiple other problems in the back or legs, not just due to spinal arthritis.
If you want to learn more about easy ways to manage your spinal (neck & back) pain or sciatica, join my free community where we have done free trainings on "Simple Solutions to Manage Your Neck/ Back Pain" and "Simple Solutions to Manage Your Nerve Pain"
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