woman with sciatica pain

Sciatica Risk Factors

If you are suffering the acute, often incapacitating, pain of sciatica, you may be wondering how you came to be in this miserable situation. More than that, you are no doubt wondering what you can do to find relief. A good first step is contacting the physiatrists at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine. Our doctors specialize in non surgical alleviation of pain and restoration of function, and we have a wide range of effective treatments that can help you heal and return to your normal activities.

What put you at risk for sciatica?

The reason sciatica is such a common complaint is that there are a great many risk factors for developing the problem. Even if your current episode of pain resulted from a sudden movement (perhaps just a sneeze), the causes behind it have no doubt been building for some time. In all likelihood, one of the following risk factors applies to you. 

Aging and Osteoarthritis

Aging involves wear and tear that, over time, erodes bone, cartilage, and the gelatinous discs that cushion the vertebrae, increasing the possibility of disc herniation and compressed nerves in your spine. Though obviously more common in older people, injuries or certain disease conditions can put young patients at risk for premature aging and osteoarthritis.

Working at Certain Occupations

Jobs that require lifting heavy loads, twisting, bending, and reaching may predispose you to the back pain of sciatica. Conversely, occupations that necessitate sitting for long periods of time also put postural stress on the back. Therefore, a large percentage of the population is at risk, including movers, construction workers, painters, nurses and health aides, executives, office workers, drivers of trucks, buses, taxis, etc., and anyone who commutes a long distance. 

Having an Unhealthy Lifestyle

Those who lead sedentary lives outside of work and fail to use their muscles, lose tone and flexibility, increasing their risk of sciatica. Bad habits, like an unhealthy diet, smoking, or drinking to excess, can also disrupt spinal health. 

  • Being Overweight or Obese: Excess weight increases stress on your spine, contributing to the spinal deterioration that may trigger sciatica.
  • Smoking (nicotine) can weaken bones and accelerate the erosion of vertebral disks.
  • Alcohol abuse can decrease blood flood, slow healing, and increase pain sensitivity. It can also result in dehydration lessens the cushioning power of spinal discs. Heavy drinking can also speed up the progression of arthritis by interfering with the body’s ability to repair surrounding tissue.
  • Lack of Regular Exercise

Not making exercise a part of your daily routine can put you at risk of sciatica by preventing you from strengthening the “core” muscles of your back and abdomen, the muscles that help support your low back.


Unfortunately, because diabetes affects the way your body uses blood sugar, the disease increases your risk of nerve damage that may lead to sciatica. Keeping your diabetes in check and living a healthy lifestyle, however, can mitigate this risk a good deal.

Previous Injury 

If you have had a prior injury to your lower back or spine, your risk of developing sciatica is greater than average. Keeping your core muscles strong is a helpful preventive measure.

Improper Preparation, Posture or Form When Exercising

While exercising is highly beneficial in maintaining overall health, failing to warm up and begin exercising gradually, or failing to learn correct methods of movement, can both lead to trouble. Stretching before physical activity and following proper form, e.g. during weightlifting or bowling, are essential to avoid increasing your risk of developing sciatica. 


You are more vulnerable to sciatica during pregnancy, not only because of rapid weight gain but because the hormones elevated in pregnancy cause your ligaments to loosen. Since ligaments hold your vertebrae together, protect your discs, and keep your spine stable, this loosening increases your risk that your discs may slip. Of course, the added weight of your pregnancy can also lead to nerve pinching that results in sciatic pain.

No matter what your risk factors for sciatica, our skilled physiatrists can show you ways to prevent a recurrence of the ordeal you’re facing now.

Contact Our Accomplished Doctors for Highly Effective Sciatica Treatment 

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we have a history of successfully diagnosing and treating sciatica. As a holistic practice, we offer a broad range of combined traditional and complementary medical therapies — including corticosteroid and Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections, acupuncture, and PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) therapy. No matter what risk factors bring you to our offices, we are dedicated to providing you with pain relief and a restored sense of well-being.