Herniated Discs Do Not Cause Sciatica

by: Dr. Mitchell Yass

I just reviewed a slideshow that was presented on WebMD regarding sciatica. It stated that the primary cause of sciatica is a herniated disc. This is fictitious and needs to be addressed. False statements like this continue to be promoted by the medical establishment. Those people with sciatica searching the internet find this information, which justifies surgeries and epidural nerve blocks as treatments to resolve sciatica. There is a saying; “And the truth shall set you free”. Be ready to be cleansed from this dirt, because here come the facts.

Anybody with any common sense would agree that sciatica describes irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve begins at the gluteal or buttock region and ends at the back of the knee. Therefore if you accept the definition as described, irritation of the sciatic nerve must occur somewhere in its path. It is absolutely unequivocal that the sciatic nerve does not attach to the spine. If its path does not begin at the spine than no spinal abnormality can irritate the sciatic nerve.

Now you will have the experts tell you that the nerve roots that come out of the spinal cord which create the sciatic nerve if irritated can create sciatica symptoms; false. The nerve roots that come out of the spinal cord at every level innervate a specific area of skin and a specific muscle. If L4 were impinged, it could only create an altered sensation at the inner shin. L5 would create an altered sensation at the outer shin. S1 would create an altered sensation at the heel and calf region.

Sciatic symptoms begin in the gluteal region and typically end at the foot. It is obvious that this area of skin is far superior to any one or even two dermatomal regions. That means that no one or two compressed nerve roots could create the symptoms of sciatica.

Next let’s look at this paradox. Experts say that sciatic symptoms result from impinged nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve and therefore surgery at the lumbar spine is a legitimate treatment option. Well answer me this Batman, the median nerve is the nerve that is responsible for carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. This nerve is made up of nerve roots from the cervical spine. Why is the surgical intervention proposed for this nerve surgery at the wrist where the nerve lies versus at the cervical spine where the nerve roots that form the median nerve comes out. I am still waiting for some medical expert to explain this ambiguity.

Next, in 2005, Dr. Aaron Filler created the MRN; the magnetic resonance neurography. This is an enhanced MRI. What makes this diagnostic test unique is that it can actually differentiate nerves versus the MRI that can only identify nerve roots. The MRI is incapable of seeing nerves. Dr. Filler stated that in 90 to 95% of cases of sciatica the cause was impingement of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle and not herniated discs or spinal stenosis.

Finally, let’s look at the track record of the MRI in correlating herniated discs or stenosis to pain. Since the 90’s it has been accepted that 70% of the population have herniated discs with no pain, while innumerable people with severe pain have no herniated discs.

The American College of Physicians has now recommended that MRIs no longer be used to identify the cause of back pain because there is little correlation between positive findings and pain. They actually noted that in 85% of cases of people coming to primary care, their back pain could not be attributed to a spinal abnormality, such as a herniated disc or stenosis.

The reality is that in the vast majority of cases, the cause of sciatica is impingement of the piriformis on the sciatic nerve. The piriformis strains, thickens and impinges on the sciatic nerve because the other muscles that work with it, namely the glute max, glute med and hamstring, strain first, causing the piriformis to break down and strain.

Resolution of sciatica comes from lengthening the piriformis and strengthening the glute max, glute med and hamstrings. Another famous proverb states that if a lie is stated enough it becomes the truth. Unfortunately for millions this is the case when it comes to sciatica. With all the evidence presented, how can you see it any other way?

Sciatica > Herniated Discs Do Not Cause Sciatica

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