Back Pain and Sciatica

July 06, 2022

Because we grow vertically, our spines naturally defy gravity. As a result, cases of back pain and sciatica may occur. In this article, we identify the symptoms of sciatica; its causes; its risk factors; prevention, as well as, when to seek medical advice. Read further to know more…

In simple words, Sciatica is the term that refers to the ‘neuralgia’ along the sciatic nerve. It is the pain that travels along the sciatic nerve, starting from the lower back to the hips and buttocks and finally down to either legs. On numerous occasions, sciatica affects one side of the body.

When does sciatica occur? Because the human spine is affected by the wear and tear of gravity and other biomechanical factors, the spine has to constantly adjust to accommodate the effects of aging. This leads to maladaptive consequences which can cause anything from mild back pain to severe functional disability.

The Symptoms of Sciatica

One can identify sciatica from the back pain that radiates down the lower spine all the way to the buttocks and finally to the limbs. Feelings of discomfort in these areas of the body’s nerve pathway are almost always associated with sciatica. The pain of sciatica is unpredictable, as it can range from a mild back ache to burning sensations and seemingly sharp electric shock.

Back pain in this form can worsen due to other underlying illnesses. For instance, when a person with sciatica sneezes, it contracts the spine and can aggravate the symptoms. More often than not, sciatica occurs on one side of the body at a time. Other symptoms may include muscle weakness, tingling or numbness in the leg or foot. That being said, these symptoms can occur concurrently.

Mild sciatica, or minor back pain, sometimes heals naturally overtime. However, if self-care measures do not abate your symptoms, and the pain exceeds the duration of a week; this may be indicative of a severe condition. Follow up with your healthcare provider if your symptoms are associated with a traumatic event, if you experience changes in bowel or bladder function and/or if you experience severe limitations that interfere with your daily activities.

The Causes of Sciatica

We may blame gravity, but there are numerous other risk factors that cause sciatica. We highlight the major causes of sciatica as follows:

1. Aging: Older people suffer more from sciatica than youth. Why, because, bone spurs and herniated disks; causes of sciatica; are developments that occur in the spine as a person ages.

2. Obesity: Excess body weight increases the strain on your spine. It is no surprise that obese people are strongly susceptible to the triggers of back pain and sciatica.

3. Improper Posture: Sometimes, standing or sitting in awkward position for prolonged periods can lead to development of back pain and sciatica.


4. Underlying Illnesses: Medical conditions like diabetes can increase the risk of nerve damage. As a result, the spine is left exposed to sciatica, which is a neurological condition itself.


Back pain and sciatica in most instances, can be prevented. There are ways in which you can strengthen and protect your back. They are: regular exercise; maintaining proper sitting, standing and walking postures; and paying attention to your body mechanics.

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