Most commonly, sciatica results when a spinal disc ruptures in the lower lumbosacral region of the spine. Instead of acting as a gelatinous cushion between the bony vertebrae of the spine, the disc squeezes out from between the vertebrae and presses on one or more of the spinal nerves that form the sciatic nerve, causing inflammation. “Sciatica symptoms may come on slowly,” explains Dr. Nixdorf. When back stiffness and lack of flexibility, such as when you get into or out of a chair or car, are left untreated for as little as two or three weeks, says Nixdorf, symptoms can increase in severity until the sciatic nerve becomes very, very angry.
Interestingly, people who sit for a living are at slightly higher risk of back related problems than people who are physical workers in forestry, mining, farming or construction, according to Dr. Don Nixdorf. “You would think that people in heavy industry might be predisposed to having more frequent back and sciatica-related symptoms,” says Nixdorf. “Not necessarily so.” Slumping at a desk or a computer for eight hours a day, five days a week, can aggravate compression of the spine, which, in turn, can lead to lower back stiffness, back pain and inflammation of the sciatic nerve.