Are You at Risk for Sciatica?

Sciatica is one of the most common types of nerve pain problems. According to Harvard Health Publishing, 40% of the population will get it during their lifetime. Knowing what the risk factors are and getting ahead of the issue is crucial in the battle against sciatica. 

At The Spine and Pain Center of California, we know chronic pain, and we always recommend doing whatever you can to prevent it, rather than to have to treat it later. Interventional pain management specialist Dr. Navin Mahallavaram and the rest of our staff hope you will memorize these risk factors for sciatica and consider what to do next if you believe the issue has already begun to affect your life.

What sciatica really is 

Before you learn the risk factors of sciatica, you might still want to know what the condition is. In many cases, sciatica is the symptom of a larger problem with the sciatic nerve, which is the nerve that runs through your lower back and divides off to run through your hips, buttocks, legs, and feet on either side. Sciatica is the pain, discomfort, and sometimes numbness you’ll feel in these areas when there is an issue with the sciatic nerve. 

The problem in your sciatic nerve is a kind of pinching that can be caused by all sorts of conditions, from a herniated disk to a bone spur to even a tumor (although this is rarer). This is what creates the pain you feel, which is what we call sciatica. 

But since the problem is so widespread, you’re probably already wondering what you can do to avoid sciatica. 

Risk factors for sciatica

According to a 2021 study on sciatica, some interesting distinctions set this condition apart from many others. For example, there is currently no gender-based prevalence among sufferers of the condition. Also, for the most part, body height has nothing to do with risk factors associated with the condition. However, certain factors make you more likely to experience sciatica. 


Most individuals with sciatica first experience the condition in their forties. Others may also start to experience sciatica as they continue to age past this point. The issue rarely occurs during childhood or young adulthood unless due to severe trauma experienced by the body. 

A sedentary lifestyle

Whether you sit for long periods for work or you generally prefer to spend your time in more of a relaxed, stationary state, you could be increasing your risk of sciatica. This is sometimes associated with obesity, which can be another risk factor for sciatica because it puts additional pressure on the spine. However, lots of sitting can also cause you to have poor posture or odd sitting habits, which can increase the likelihood of pinching your sciatic nerve. 

Repetitive movements 

If you’re now convinced moving your body as much as possible is the best way to stave off sciatica, hold your horses! Jobs that require repetitive and difficult movements like lifting heavy boxes, twisting your back consistently, or even driving a car may be linked to sciatica development. Even running or endurance training can stress the piriformis muscle and create pain and discomfort similar to sciatica. 


Unfortunately, other medical conditions can sometimes lead to sciatica. One of these is diabetes, which is a widespread condition in the United States. Diabetes sometimes causes nerve damage, and because the sciatic nerve is so large, it is often susceptible to this type of harm. If you are not properly managing your diabetes, you are increasing your chance of experiencing sciatica. 

Can I avoid sciatica?

We can’t give you a 100% guarantee that you’ll be able to avoid sciatica. Still, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself and your sciatic nerve. These include exercising, taking care of your body when you do strenuous activities, asking for help when lifting heavy objects, and maintaining proper posture when sitting. 

If you have more questions or think you might be developing sciatica, call or book an appointment online to see Dr. Mallavaram. Call 925-469-9120 for our Pleasanton office or call 925-469-9120 for our Fremont office. 

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