One of main causes of sciatica is aging and the spinal deterioration that can accompany it. If you are experiencing sciatica, a condition that affects the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet, you may be surprised to know that your symptoms might not be directly related to the area where you are feeling pain or weakness. Many cases actually begin in the spine, where a spinal abnormality of some sort is impinging on the sciatic nerve, leading to symptoms that can manifest in other areas of the body that the nerve feeds.
How the spine changes with age
As the body ages, the spine undergoes many changes. For example, many people past middle age experience osteoarthritis of the spine, or the wearing away of the cartilage that used to reduce the friction between the vertebral joints. In response to the unprotected bones of the joints grinding against one another, the body can produce bone spurs, rounded nodules that can jut into the intervertebral space. In the lower back, these spurs may place pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing symptoms.
Spondylolisthesis and sciatica
Another issue that can cause sciatica is spondylolisthesis, or slippage of vertebrae. When the bones of the spine are out of place, it can affect the placement of other elements, like the intervertebral discs and the foramina (passageways) through which nerve roots run. Spondylolisthesis frequently occurs in the lower back, where shifting spinal elements can pinch the sciatic nerve. Although slippage isn’t entirely tied to growing older, it does occur more frequently among people who are middle-aged and seniors.
Whether your sciatica is related to aging or another underlying cause, you’ll likely begin treating it with conservative treatments. These approaches help alleviate sciatica symptoms in most cases, but because they don’t treat the underlying problem, you may want to look into surgical options for long term relief. USA Spine Care offers minimally invasive spine procedures that can address the impingement of the sciatic nerve.
Contact USA Spine Care today to learn about our outpatient alternative to traditional open spine surgery. We can also review your MRI to determine if one of our procedures could benefit you.