Factors That Put You at Greater Risk for Developing Sciatica

Jun 02, 2023

Factors That Put You at Greater Risk for Developing Sciatica

Sciatica is a painful condition that affects millions in the United States. It occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down through the buttocks and into the legs, becomes compressed and inflamed.

Our multispecialty team at Coastal Spine offers minimally invasive solutions for painful neck, back, and joint conditions. Sciatica treatment is one of our many specialties. 

Although we’re happy to provide relief from the stabbing, shock-like pain common with this painful nerve root irritation, we’d like to help prevent it whenever possible.

Check these risk factors for sciatica and take steps now to protect your back health:

Age-related changes

Sciatica risk tends to increase with age. That’s because natural wear-and-tear on the spine over time can lead to problems such as herniated discs, bone spurs, and spinal stenosis. These conditions can exert pressure on the sciatic nerve, resulting in inflammation, irritation, and pain.

You can’t stop aging, but adopting healthy habits such as eating a nutritious diet, using proper lifting techniques, and engaging in back-friendly exercise to strengthen the muscles supporting your spine can reduce the risk of age-related issues.

Sedentary lifestyle

Leading a sedentary lifestyle characterized by prolonged sitting or inactivity is a significant risk factor for sciatica. Sitting for extended periods can lead to weakened muscles, poor posture, and increased pressure on the spinal discs.

If you work a desk job or spend many hours sitting, practicing good ergonomics and incorporating stretching exercises and movement into your daily routine can help maintain a healthy spine.

Simply standing up, taking a quick walk to refill your water bottle, or stretching for a couple of minutes every hour or so relieves stress on your spine and improves the blood flow your bones, muscles, and joints crave.

Occupational hazards

Certain occupations put individuals at a higher risk of developing sciatica. For instance, jobs that involve heavy lifting, prolonged bending or twisting, or repetitive movements can strain the back and increase the likelihood of nerve compression. 

Therefore, prioritize proper lifting techniques, use ergonomic equipment, and take necessary precautions to prevent back injuries.

Excess weight

Excess weight puts added pressure on intervertebral discs, increasing your risk of disc herniation and other factors contributing to sciatica.

Conversely, maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise alleviates strain on the spine, reducing your risk of sciatic nerve compression.


Smoking isn’t only harmful to the lungs but also affects spinal health. Reduced blood flow linked to smoking limits the availability of nutrients spinal discs require for tissue repair. Thus, smokers are more prone to developing degenerative disc disease, which can cause sciatica.

Genetics and family history

While not a modifiable risk factor, genetic factors can influence the structure and integrity of the spine, making some people more prone to disc herniation or spinal abnormalities. Thus, engaging in preventive measures to minimize the risk is essential.

Investing in your back health today can lead to a pain-free tomorrow. Schedule an evaluation at Coastal Spine by calling one of our six New Jersey offices or requesting an appointment online.