What is the Connection Between Lower Back Pain and Sciatica?

Dan Cavallari

Lower back pain and sciatica are often associated with each other because one is often the cause of the other. Sciatica is a condition in which the sciatic nerve gets pinched or compressed, causing a sharp, shooting pain anywhere in the lower back, buttocks, hips, or legs. It can be caused by injury or spinal compression, as well as other lower back injuries or conditions. Lower back pain and sciatica often coincide since sciatic pain can manifest itself as lower back pain, or another cause of lower back pain may also be the cause of sciatica.

Sciatica, a medical condition where the sciatic nerve is pinched, can cause lower back pain.
Sciatica, a medical condition where the sciatic nerve is pinched, can cause lower back pain.

A herniated disc in the spine can cause lower back pain and sciatica. A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like substance between vertebrae begins to compress and ooze out of place, leaving the vertebrae to rub against each other or surrounding muscles and ligaments. Such rubbing and compression can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve, in turn causing lower back pain and sciatica. Such a condition often requires medical attention, and at the very least, physical therapy. Less severe instances may be solved through stretching and regular exercise.

When lower back pain occurs, a person should try stretching out the muscles of the lower back and hips.
When lower back pain occurs, a person should try stretching out the muscles of the lower back and hips.

Lower back pain and sciatica often occur after long periods of sitting. The sitting position can put pressure on muscles that surround the sciatic nerve, thereby causing compression on the nerve. This can send shooting pains down the back of the legs, into the buttocks and hips, and into the lower back. The condition is exacerbated by chairs that do not offer sufficient lumbar support, which means the lower back muscles are tensed as they struggle to keep the spine straight. The muscles tend to tire and tense up; such tensing can cause undue pressure on the sciatic nerve as well as on other muscles throughout the back and neck.

When lower back pain and sciatica occur, one should try to stretch out the muscles of the lower back and hips, as well as the legs. A regular stretching routine may prevent the pain from recurring, and sitting in an ergonomic chair can help eliminate a recurrence as well. Taking part in a regular core workout can also help prevent future back and sciatic pain; the core muscles, such as the hips, lower back, abs, groin, and leg muscles all help support the spine and keep it in position. If these muscles are properly conditioned, one has less of a chance of experiencing a slipped disc, herniated disc, or tight and strained muscles.

A herniated disc can cause sciatic nerve pain.
A herniated disc can cause sciatic nerve pain.

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