What Causes Sciatica to Flare-Up?

Most people have had back pain at some point, so they are used to the throbbing or piercing pain. If you have had sciatica, however, you are used to the shooting pains that come with it.

What’s covered?

What Causes Sciatica to Flare-Up?

One of the most significant nerves in your body is the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in your body. This will directly impact your capacity to feel and control your legs. You will get sciatica if there is irritation to this nerve in your back.

Read on to understand this discomforting condition and learn about its risk factors and some helpful tips to prevent future pain.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica, or Sciatica Nerve Pain, refers to the condition whereby there is a compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. Stretching from your lower back, through your hips to each leg, and branching into smaller nerves before your knee, this nerve is considered the thickest and longest nerve in the human body.

Contrary to popular belief, the sciatic nerve exists in both legs and can be painful either way.

What are the different types of sciatica?

There are four types of sciatica. Some are based on their duration, while some are based on their origin or cause.

Acute sciatica

This type of sciatica is usually limited to the early days, lasting for around four to eight weeks, with a pain that is not so intense. Patients in this stage can manage the pain without requiring medical treatment.

Chronic sciatica

This sciatic pain is consistent, causing you trouble and discomfort for more than eight weeks. It is unmanageable and requires medical intervention, which can be surgical or non-surgical, depending on the root of the problem.

Bilateral sciatica

Syndromes like Cauda Equina or degeneration in the vertebrae can cause this rare sciatica, which simultaneously occurs in both legs.

Alternating sciatica

Degeneration in the sacroiliac joint usually causes this not-very-common type of sciatic nerve pain that also concerns both left and right legs.

How can I tell if my back pain is sciatica?

You may wonder if you are already suffering from sciatic nerve pain rather than the typical back pain. Here are the most common sciatica symptoms and signs that may manifest for a few weeks or many years. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms, as the underlying cause of sciatica may differ from one person to another.


Sciatica causes mild aches to severe pain, which may be excruciating depending on nerve impingement or irritation severity. It may also appear as a mild ache in the lower back in some people and a sharp pain or feel burning sensation on one of either leg in others.

Tingling, weakness, and numbness

Nerve compression puts pressure on the sciatic nerves, in addition to the disruption of the nerve. This results in weakness, numbness, or a tingling sensation in the affected region.


Discomfort caused by sciatica can come as a sensation of electric shock or jolt in the lower back or legs, which coughing, sneezing, or sitting for long periods can aggravate and worsen.

Risk factors of sciatica

Sciatica becomes more common in older people and those with trauma or injury on the lower back.


Ageing is a natural phase that predisposes a person to develop sciatica, especially since, as we get older, we tend to acquire:

  1. Poor body mechanics - Not making the right movement when doing things puts a lot of pressure on your nerves, which can cause sciatic pain.

  2. Poor posture - Consistent awkward position can hurt your spine and cause injuries with long-lasting damage.

  3. Being overweight - Obesity contributes to straining your lower back.

Trauma or injury on the lower back

  1. Sports-related wear and tear - Sports or activities requiring intensive physical activity can directly worsen your sciatica pain. Reducing high and moderate-impact physical activity is advisable if you have sciatica pain.

  2. Smoking while pregnant - A child is likely to be born with spine abnormalities if her mother smokes while conceiving.

  3. Inherited spine abnormalities

  4. Other conditions that include but are not limited to disorders that affect the spine, a spine tumour, infection, and spinal injury, such as slipped or herniated disc

Is there a cure for sciatica?

Sciatic nerve pain is a treatable and curable condition, no matter how challenging it may seem. Health professionals can help you determine the cause of sciatica, which will lead them to look into various treatment modalities.

Your healthcare provider may refer you to a physical therapist if you have chronic sciatica to relieve your current pain and prevent future pain.


Individuals severely affected by sciatica can manage the pain by taking medicines like steroids, muscle relaxers, and NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and Phorpain.

These medicines can help relieve the pain by reducing inflammation. Always consult your doctor before starting medications purchased in drugstores.

Staying active

People experiencing sciatica pain feel and believe that moving around may hurt. However, too much sitting around is not practical as it will only put unnecessary pressure on your nerves and cause more pain. Stay active and stop sitting too much to avoid the flares.

Good posture

Your posture dramatically affects your sciatica pain; poor posture means excessive pressure on the pinched nerve. Fix your posture by keeping your back straight when you sit or stand.

Healthy diet

Practice a balanced diet to get rid of obesity. Excessive weight adds more pressure to your sciatica nerve.


Loosen your muscles to manage pain levels by stretching your muscles now and then and keeping them as mobile as possible.

Relax and avoid unnecessary stress

We have discussed how stress can be a significant contributor to your pain. Find time to chill, relax, and not let too much stress affect your body.

These tips can relieve sciatica and, at the same time, helps prevent sciatic flare-ups.

The takeaway

Sciatic nerve pain is like back pain but combined with leg pain. It can be caused or aggravated by simple activities. Conversely, simple activities can help you manage and avoid pain.

Knowing what triggers sciatic nerve pain is crucial in preventing and managing them. Therefore, you should be aware of any triggers you may have. If you can identify what causes your sciatica flare-ups, you’ll know what to do to avoid them.

Our bodies need our great care. To be able to gain knowledge about the various types of health conditions, read thoroughly here.

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