Understanding the Signs of Sciatica Pain

Chronic pain is one of the worst conditions you can have, as it can dramatically impact your quality of life. Even so, around 50 million Americans live with some type of chronic pain.

Among the most common forms is sciatica. Fortunately, there are remedies for sciatica pain, but you first have to identify it. Let’s talk about the signs of sciatica pain and what you can do to prevent and treat it.

What Is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerves run through your legs and connect to your spine. When these become irritated or injured, it can cause intense pain known as sciatica. It’s a common condition that affects between 10% to 15% of the population.

While there are many potential causes of sciatica, it’s usually caused by stiffness or trauma to the nerve itself. Consequently, sitting in the car for too long can cause sciatica just as easily as an injury on the sports field.

Some people are more likely to get sciatica than others as a result of genetic and environmental factors. Also, people with sciatica may experience different sensations. More on that later.

Common Causes

Again, anybody can experience sciatica. Still, there are some common factors that may predispose someone to sciatica pain, including:

  • Weak core muscles
  • Obesity
  • Aging
  • Previous injuries
  • Those with physical jobs
  • Lack of posture
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Overly sedentary lifestyles

There are plenty of other potential causes. A herniated or slipped disk can lead to spine pain, which can affect your sciatica.

If you have other pain (back pain, knee pain, etc.), this could also be the cause. Remember, everything in our bodies is connected.

Consequently, when we compensate for something that’s causing us pain, it can worsen other parts of our body or cause different pain. For example, if you walk differently because your foot hurts, it can lead to knee, hip, and back pain. For this reason, focus on walking with proper posture and completing exercises with proper form.

Moreover, maintaining a proper posture and receiving the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week is a great way to prevent sciatica. However, as we mentioned, overactivity is another potential cause.

Therefore, it’s best to prevent these issues before they arise. Stretching, exercising, and living a healthy lifestyle is your best defense against nearly all chronic pain issues, including common lower back pain and joint pain.

Signs of Sciatica Pain

The most tell-all sign of sciatica is if you experience chronic or recurring pain in the region of your hamstrings or glutes. This can be a sharp, shooting pain up and down your leg, or it may feel more contained to one area.

Again, people may experience sciatica differently. Some describe the pain as “stabbing” or “burning”, whereas others describe it as feeling like an electric shock in that area.

Sciatica is easy to identify for those who have experienced it. However, it can come on gradually or suddenly and feel different for others. Therefore, just because it isn’t described exactly as you perceive it doesn’t mean that you don’t have sciatica.

If you experience spine pain or other pain in your body and you’re unsure if it’s related to sciatica, contact your doctor to find out or visit one of our locations.

How to Treat Sciatica Pain

Treating, preventing, or limiting your sciatica pain is essential. The problem typically worsens over time without treatment, so here are some strategies to try!

Identify the Problem

Do you notice your sciatica pain worsening during certain periods? This could be during work, during your commute, or when you’re exercising. If you notice a pattern, try to identify the problem and address it however you can.

For example, if you sit for long hours and keeping your leg and spine in one position is the culprit, taking breaks to walk around and stretch could make a big difference.


Stretching regularly can improve your sciatica pain over time, offer some immediate relief, and prevent future attacks. Lower body stretches can help ease pressure on the nerve. This is especially important if you have an overly active or sedentary lifestyle.

Try some basic lower back and hamstring stretches for 10 to 15 minutes each day. After a couple of weeks, you should notice a substantial improvement in your sciatica pain.


Again, the appropriate amount of exercise is essential, and you have to do it correctly. Always remember to stretch and warm up before exercising. Otherwise, it could exacerbate the issue.

Also, keep it moderate if you’re currently experiencing sciatica pain. We aren’t expecting you to run with sciatica pain, but going for a walk or doing something you enjoy can help.

Visit a Specialist

We know that pain can quickly become unbearable. If you need relief now, then there’s no time to wait.

Treating sciatica with preventative measures like stretching and exercising is a long-term solution. If you need relief, the best thing you can do is visit a spinal and nerve specialist to help relieve your sciatica pain.

For more information, read our sciatica treatment options. From there, you can talk to a specialist and see what’s right for you.

Get Help Today

Now that you know the signs of sciatica pain and how to relieve it, don’t wait. Sciatica pain can get worse over time and quickly become debilitating. Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options available to those in need, and some small changes in your habits can go a long way!

Stay up to date with our latest health tips, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!

At New York City Spine Surgery, our standard for excellent care means treating you as a whole person, and not just another spine disorder on a chart.

© Copyright 2024. New York City Spine.  All Rights Reserved.