Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve bundle in your body, running from your lower back all the way down both your legs – and sciatica is the term for when that nerve gets inflamed. That can cause significant numbness, tingling and pain.
But, is sciatica disabling? Here’s what you need to know:
Sciatica is a symptom of an underlying problem
There’s no question that sciatica can be painful – but pain is largely a subjective experience, and sciatica pain can vary greatly in intensity. However, sciatica is generally considered a symptom of an underlying condition.
Causes of sciatica include things like:
- Spinal stenosis: This condition occurs when the spinal canal is simply too small or narrowed due to some other cause, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Herniated discs: One of the most common causes of sciatica is a herniated or slipped disc. When a disc in the spine ruptures or bulges, it can press down on the sciatic nerve, causing significant pain and limitations.
- Spondylolisthesis: When one vertebra slips forward over another, it can lead to sciatic nerve compression, along with weakness in the affected leg.
- Traumatic injuries: Accidents, falls or other physical injuries can damage the sciatic nerve, complicating any chance of recovery.
It’s estimated that 40% of people will suffer from sciatica at some point in their lives, and it’s especially pervasive as people age. Not everyone who suffers from sciatica will be disabled. Other factors have to be considered when you file a Social Security Disability claim, including the underlying condition responsible for the sciatica, your age, education level, previous work history and transferable skills. That’s why it’s so important to have experienced legal guidance when you file a claim.