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Health / Lifestyle

Sciatica – Basics

Sciatica – Basics

Sciatica is a radiating pain along the path of the Sciatic Nerve. The Sciatic nerve branches from the lower back and goes through the hips and buttocks reaching down the legs.

I am a patient suffering from Sciatica for years. Unfortunately once you start having it, it may live with you for the rest of your life. But there are chances of getting it cured fully by doing proper exercise (continued) and/or treatment.

Causes of Sciatica

You must be knowing that there are a total of 23 vertebral discs in the spinal column. Specific problems with any of these discs can prompt unique symptoms. This may be in the form of pain originating in the disc and/or that radiates to nearby areas.

The Sciatica problems occur with problems in the Lumbar discs L1-L5 due to which the Sciatic Nerves get affected. It can be due to a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine which compresses a part of the nerve. The nerve gets pinched by the herniated disc or an overgrown bone on the vertebrae.

You may have severe pain on the lower back, buttocks and radiating down to the back of your legs. Usually the pain will be on one side only. Some days you will feel it on your left leg but it can switch to the right as well.


You may feel pain anywhere on the pathway of the Sciatic Nerve. But pain can start from the discs as well. It may be severe pain, numbness, burning sensation, jolt or an electric shock. You may feel severe pain when you cough or sneeze. Normally it affects only one side of the body. You may also feel a tingling or muscle weakness in the affected leg. The pain follows the path of the Sciatic Nerve from the lower back to buttock and back of the thigh and calf muscles.

Risk Factors

The risk factors include

  • Age: Age-related changes in spine are the main cause
  • Obesity: Being Obese, you increase the stress on your spine
  • Occupational: Twisting the back, carrying heavy loads, driving motor vehicles for long time
  • Prolonged Sitting: Those who sit continuously for long time are more at risk
  • Diabetes: Nerve damages happens due to diabetes


  • Exercise
  • Maintain Proper Posture while sitting
  • Use of good body mechanics

To keep your back strong, pay special attention to your core muscles — the muscles in your abdomen and lower back that are essential for proper posture and alignment. Ask your doctor to recommend specific activities.

Choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests and a swivel base. Consider placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level.

If you stand for long periods, rest one foot on a stool or small box from time to time. When you lift something heavy, let your lower extremities do the work. Move straight up and down. Keep your back straight and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body. Avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously. Find a lifting partner if the object is heavy or awkward.

We shall look into specific Exercises and/or Yoga Postures which can give positive results to the Sciatica in forthcoming article.

The details provided here are only for general information. You may have pain due to various other reasons and associated treatment can also be different case by case. Therefore always consult with your doctor and make sure that you are getting treatment for the correct disease.

Source of information: Mayo Clinic

Pictures used for illustration only – Credit: Mayo Clinic and WebMD

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Born and brought up in Kerala, I did my schooling in Kerala and graduated (B.Sc Physics) from the Calicut University. I have worked with a Swedish Company from 1994 to 2015, as a Senior Project Manager in their Group IT Division in Dubai. This blog is the result of my strong desire to communicate with others, sharing what I know and what I could gather from various sources.


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