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The Ultimate Back Pain Relief Tips Blog

Sciatica Part 1: What Causes Sciatica? The Five Most Common Causes

Posted by Dr. Jeff Winternheimer D.C. on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 @ 03:08 PM

sciatica_sct1This is Part One in a ten part series on Sciatica. In this series, we are going to talk about what causes Sciatica, what Sciatica is exactly, what the most common symptoms are, things you can do at home to treat Sciatica, how we treat Sciatica, and we will discuss some scientific studies about our treatment.

It's always important for any type of back pain to understand the source of the pain. But it is even more important to understand for Sciatica, because the source of the pain is not always in the same area.

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There are 5 causes of Sciatica that we are going to discuss. These are all related to the spine so it is very important that we first know what the spine is and how it works. It requires a little understanding but it is not complicated in the least, and it is important that we do understand it because when you understand the spine you will be better prepared to treat it.

This is because we don't just treat the pain, but the cause of the pain. And in my experience with treating Sciatica, the outcome of the treatments turn out better when the patient understands the cause of the problems.

Schedule A Free  Sciatica Consultation

So, here are some basic facts about the spine:

  • The main purpose of the spine is to protect your Spinal Cord
  • The spine is made up of 24 bones called Vertebrae
  • There are Discs in between each vertebra, which do 2 things: allow for each vertebra to move in six directions, and act like shock absorbers
  • Between each vertebra, there is a nerve that exits the spine off of the spinal cord. But we are only going to focus on the nerves of the Lumbar Spine, or Lower Back
  • The Sciatic Nerve is formed of nerves that exit your spine from your lower back

Now that we have covered some basic information about the spine, let's discuss the five causes of Sciatica.

  • The number one, and most common, cause of Sciatica is the dreaded Herniated Disc in your lower back.

herniated_disc2-resized-600Try to imagine the discs in between your vertebra as a jelly donut; there is an outer portion made of a thick material, and an inner portion that contains a kind of jelly. This is similar to what the discs in your back are like. And sometimes, the jelly (called the Nucleus) can rip through the outer portion of the disc and push on the nerves of the spine.

This will very often cause Sciatic pain, such as pain that travels down the leg. As I said earlier, if you just treat the leg pain, the disc will not get better. You have to treat the Herniated Disc itself to relieve the problem for good.

For more information, see Herniated Disc!

  • sciatica_spine-resized-600-1The second cause of Sciatica is the Bulging Disc, which is basically just a  smaller version of the Herniated Disc.

We already talked about how a disc becomes herniated when the jelly (nucleus) of the disc pushes out of the vertebra and puts pressure on the nerve. But, sometimes the jelly pushes on the thick outer portion of the disc without tearing it and leaking out. This is considered a Bulging Disc and not a Herniated Disc, since the nucleus is not actually coming out of the disc. And similarly to a Herniated Disc, this bulge pushes against the nerve and causes Sciatic pain.

For more information, see Bulging Disc!


The key to our treatment is solving the underlying cause. If you have Sciatica, and you are suffering, we can help you. Call today to schedule a Free Consultation at 866-615-4765, or click on this link to schedule online:

Schedule A Free  Sciatica Consultation

Remember, this is just Part One of a ten part series!

Part Two will continue the discussion on the most common causes of Sciatica. My clinical experience is that the more you understand your problem, the more likely you are to eliminate it. If you would like to know more about Sciatica you can sign up to receive our FREE email series! Continue reading to learn more about our Sciatica Series, and click on the headline below to sign up:

Sign Up For Our Series About Sciatica!


If you are suffering with Sciatica, you need to sign up for this email series. By signing up for this free series, you will receive information all about Sciatica that will be invaluable to you.


This 10 Part Series of Sciatica Emails Includes:

  • Part 1: What Causes Sciatica? The 5 Most Common Causes
  • Part 2: What Causes Sciatica? The 5 Most Common Causes (continued)
  • Part 3: What Causes Sciatica? The 5 Most Common Causes (Video)
  • Part 4: What Is Sciatica?
  • Part 5: What Is Sciatica? The 8 Most Common Symptoms
  • Part 6: The 7 Most Common Sciatica Treatments, And What You Need To Know About Them
  • Part 7: The Science Behind Relieving Sciatica Pain
  • Part 8: Treating the Cause of Sciatica - Herniated and Bulging Discs
  • Part 9: Treating the Cause of Sciatica - Degenerated Discs and Stenosis
  • Part 10: Saving People From Sciatica

The insight and value of these tips is beneficial to people who have Sciatica and would like to know more about it. The Illinois Back Institute is dedicated to educating people, and these tips allow us to help you one email at a time!

Click on the headline above or the link below to sign up!

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Disclaimer: The content on this web site is for information purposes only and should never be used as the basis for diagnosis or treatment. We always recommend consulting a qualified professional before embarking on any form of self treatment or rehabilitation.

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