Sciatica and sitting – can sitting for to long actually cause this problem? The US Pain Society explain that “sitting is another activity that puts a lot of pressure on your glute muscles, lower back, and your sciatic nerve.“
The problem is that the pressure inside of our disks, the “shock absorbers” that lie between the bones (vertebra ) in our spine (22 disks in total ) is higher when we sit compared with simply standing or lying down.
The Advertiser writes that in addition to sitting at work, for meals, and commuting to/from work, 36 percent sit another one to two hours watching TV, 10 percent sit one to two hours for gaming, 25 percent sit one to two hours for reading/lounging, and 29 percent use their home computer for one to two hours.
If you break this down it means that the average person sits for 9.5 hours a day and sleep for eight hours. That’s a total of 17.5 hours a day off their feet!
Obviously, this is a massive problem for lower back pain and sciatica. However, although sitting cannot cause sciatica it can almost certainly cause a massive flare up of the condition.
Sciatica is a term that describes symptoms of pain, numbness, and/or weakness that radiate along the sciatic nerve from the lower back to the buttocks and leg. The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy. … Sciatica symptoms are typically felt on only one side of the body.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It starts in your lower back and splits to run through your hips, buttocks, legs, and feet on both sides. Bone spurs and spinal stenosis (narrowing) can also put pressure on the sciatic nerve in the lower back. When that happens, it can cause a lot of problems all the way down the nerve.
The most distinctive sign of sciatica is pain that radiates from your lower back into the back or side or your legs. It can range from a mild ache to sharp, severe pain. You can also get numbness, tingling, and weakness in your leg or foot. There is lots more information on what sciatica is on my post “What Is Sciatica, and What Can You Buy To Help with the Pain,” plus another one I wrote on “How To Cope with Sciatica Pain While Driving”.
One very important thing to remember is to get your posture right if you are suffering from lower back pain and or sciatica. Nichola Adams who is one of “Britain’s most experienced and highly qualified consultants in back pain” has written a couple of articles which covers details on posture and sitting to help avoid back problems,
If, however, you are a long term sufferer like myself and have arthritis in your sciatic joints then you may have to resort to other forms of help for the pain. Health Harvard wrote a great article on Taming the Pain of Sciatica. They say that the good news is that for most (roughly three out of four) people, symptoms improve over a few weeks. Injections can provide short-term relief. Like any procedure, it has uncommon risks including more pain, and it doesn’t seem to decrease the need for future surgery.
- Narrowing of the canal inside the lumbar spine (spinal stenosis)
- Disc herniation or prolapse
- Slippage of vertebra in the lumbar spine (spondylolisthesis)
- Piriformis syndrome (a buttock muscle problem)
- Injury of the lumbar spine or the sciatic nerve
- Tumor in the lumbar spinal canal or the sciatic nerve
- At times no obvious cause can be found
At home treatments for sciatica can include simple over-the-counter painkillers, analgesics or certain prescription drugs may be tried. The biggest problem with opiates is that they can cause many side effects including constipation where even taking extra fluid, fruit, vegetables and fiber can still not alleviate this.
Regular activity, walking, and physical therapy with a home program of stretching and strengthening of affected muscles is very important, as is good posture. I try and walk every day but every day is different. Some days I can manage around 2000 steps in one walk and have no problems other times I get back and need to lie down straight away. The other problem I have with this condition is standing in one spot which means it bothers me while doing general housework like ironing, and cooking. Standing in a queue is out of the question.
Keeping as flexible as you can, keeping your weight down, keep moving your position often if you are sitting down and generally looking after your lower back will prevent flare ups and more pain.