Updated: May 10, 2020
I am writing about this topic because I have been experiencing sciatic pain for almost a week. What I knew from books and teachers didn't seem to be helping so I sought the help of my body worker. Here is what I learned on my own journey.
Sciatica is a pain pattern that involves mechanical pressure on the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body.
The key to resolution of the pain is determining where the compression is happening and what is causing it. These are considered the common causes ...
Iliolumbar ligament and spinal instability: As these ligaments weaken they lose their ability to prevent the 5th lumbar vertebrae from shifting forward on the sacrum. This causes a narrowing of space between the vertebrae where this nerve exits (intervertebral foramen) leading to compression and pain. Disc herniation can also put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Sacrotuberous ligament and sacral instability: The sacrotuberous ligament along with the iliolumbar ligament stabilizes the sacroiliac joint. Postural habits of standing with the hips shifted to one side cause a side-bend to the spine (as the upper body compensates for the shift). This can cause of rotation of the pelvic bones, which puts greater stress on the sacrotuberous (and iliolumbar) ligament on one side. The sacrotuberous ligament can also be injured or strained in activities that include extension (backbending) and twisting the low back common in sports and yoga. It can also be injured or strained by falls on the buttocks and other traumas, as well as, being injured during pregnancy.
All of the above is what I learned from books and teachers. What I knew to do was working enough to give me some relief, but I knew I wasn't getting at the root cause. What I found out is that I didn't have any of the above going on. My sciatic pain on the left side was caused by a shortened psoas muscle on my right side.
The lack of support from my right psoas was causing compression on the left side of my spine -- resulting in sciatic pain. Wow ... once this was addressed instant relief. Sometimes we have to be willing to look outside of where we are feeling the pain to find the root cause.