Sciatica is one of the common reasons behind lower back pain. This condition also includes the major symptom of sciatica pain, i.e., radiating pain down the leg. Sciatica causes pain along the sciatic nerve pathway. This can occur due to the pinched nerve in the lumbar spine. It can be caused because of a slipped disc, degenerative disc, or other disc-related issues. Pain flare-ups are common with a pinched nerve. This article comprises of causes behind sciatica flare-ups and ways to prevent them.

What causes Sciatica flare-ups?

There are several reasons behind sciatica flare-ups including prolonged sitting, lifting heavy objects, wearing heels, excessive weight, etc. Along with these pressure on the sciatic nerve and stress can also lead to sciatica flare-ups.

Some of the reasons behind sciatic nerve pain can be:

  • Muscle imbalances
  • Stress
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Twisting or bending motions
  • Weight gain
  • Awkward or incorrect sleeping postures
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Other causes of sciatica:

Some of the other common sciatica causes include the following:

  • Herniated disc(s)
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis

Slipped discs or herniated discs are more common in the lower back. Along with all of this, a herniated disc is the most common reason behind sciatica flare-ups.

Ways to prevent sciatica flare-ups:

To avoid sciatica flare-ups, the following tips might help:

–         Avoid sitting for prolonged periods:

A prolonged sitting or sedentary lifestyle is one of the major reasons behind sciatica flare-ups. Sitting can put excessive pressure on the spine, therefore, significantly causing lower back pain. To relieve pain, take a break after about every 20 minutes of sitting. Moreover, stretch or take a short walk.

Increased pressure on the spine can worsen the underlying condition. To reduce the pressure, use a lumbar pillow or rolled-up towel, and also keep your feet flat on the floor. This leads to minimal pressure on your lower spine. Moreover, try avoiding activities that may increase sciatica pain, e.g., bending, twisting, or lifting heavy objects.

–         Follow a regular exercise routine:

Strengthening your back/lower back and abdominal muscles can help in preventing sciatica flare-ups or reduce the pain frequency. However, if exercises are performed improperly it can cause further damage to the already existing condition. This is why consult your healthcare provider before starting any exercises/stretches.

–         Maintain a proper posture (Walking, sitting, standing, etc.,):

Sciatica is caused due to compression on the sciatic nerve. Improper posture can put excessive pressure on the disc, therefore, irritating the nerve.

Following are some of the tips for maintaining a proper posture (sitting, standing, sleeping, etc.):

  • When sitting on a chair, make sure to:
    • Don’t cross your legs
    • Keep your feet flat on the floor
    • Maintain your knees and hips at 90 degrees

  • Your mattress and proper sleeping posture:
    • Sleeping on your back may help reduce the pain. Moreover, the pillow can be placed under the knee as well as the neck for more comfort and it also decreases pressure on the lumbar spine.
    • Some people also find sleeping on the side with sciatica side on top may reduce pain. For side sleepers, a pillow can also be placed between the bent knees. This provides support to the spine.

–         When lifting objects, practice a proper posture:

Maintain a proper posture when lifting objects including heavy items, a toddler, or even groceries, etc. When bending, use your legs instead of using your back. Moreover, when holding something heavy, try not to bend your upper body.

When to seek medical attention?

There are a couple of remedies for immediate relief of sciatica pain, e.g., ice & heat therapy, stretches, etc. In case of increased sciatica pain, contact your nearest KKT Orthopedic Spine Center. For booking an appointment, click on the link below: