Up to 84 percent of people worldwide experience low back pain during their lifetime, according to the authors of a February 2012 review article published in the journal "Lancet." Sciatica is a common form of low back pain that often radiates into the legs 2. The mechanics of walking can put pressure on the nerves responsible for sciatica, aggravating symptoms.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Sciatic Nerve and Pain
Sciatica is the term for nerve pain that comes from the sciatic nerve, the longest and widest nerve of the body. There are two sciatic nerves that come from each side of the spine where the low back meets the buttocks. The sciatic nerve travels down the back of each leg to the foot. Many conditions can cause sciatica, including a herniated disc, arthritis and muscle problems. With some of these conditions, walking increases pressure on the sciatic nerve and triggers or worsens the pain.
- Sciatica is the term for nerve pain that comes from the sciatic nerve, the longest and widest nerve of the body.
- With some of these conditions, walking increases pressure on the sciatic nerve and triggers or worsens the pain.
Sciatica and Walking
Causes of Nerve Pain in the Hip & Leg
Sciatica can be irritated by walking in several ways. The low back has a natural curve that reduces stress on the spine when walking. But arthritis or a herniated disc can put pressure on the sciatic nerve as you walk. Compression on the nerve causes pain.
The lower body muscles required for walking may also contribute to sciatic nerve compression and pain. The sciatic nerve runs through the buttocks and upper legs with little room. Injury or irritation of one or more of the muscles along the path of the sciatic nerve can lead to compression and pain, which may be aggravated by walking.
- Sciatica can be irritated by walking in several ways.
- The lower body muscles required for walking may also contribute to sciatic nerve compression and pain.
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- British Journal of Anaesthesia: Sciatica: A Review of History, Epidemiology, Pathogenesis, and the Role of Epidural Steroid Injection in Management
- Lancet: Non-specific Low Back Pain
- MedMerits: Sciatic Neuropathy: Pathogenesis and Pathophysiology
- Managing Sciatica and Radicular Pain in Primary Care Practice; Françoise Laroche and Serge Perrot (eds.)
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Sciatica. Updated December 2013.
- Caridi JM, Pumberger M, Hughes AP. Cervical radiculopathy: a review. HSS J. 2011;7(3):265-72. doi:10.1007/s11420-011-9218-z
- Marco C, Miguel-Pérez M, Pérez-Bellmunt A, et al. Anatomical causes of compression of the sciatic nerve in the pelvis. Piriform syndrome. Rev Esp Cir Ortop Traumatol. 2019;63(6):424-430. doi:10.1016/j.recot.2019.06.002
- Ajala-Agbo T, Tang PT, Bat-Ulzii Davidson T. Unilateral leg weakness and pain secondary to metastatic anal squamous cell carcinoma. BMJ Case Rep. 2019;12(7):e227563. doi:10.1136/bcr-2018-227563
- Horment-Lara G, Cruz-Montecinos C, Núñez-Cortés R, Letelier-Horta P, Henriquez-Fuentes L. Onset and maximum values of electromyographic amplitude during prone hip extension after neurodynamic technique in patients with lumbosciatic pain: A pilot study. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2016;20(2):316-23. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2015.08.006
- Rhanim A, El Zanati R, Mahfoud M, Berrada MS, El Yaacoubi M. A rare cause of chronic sciatic pain: Schwannoma of the sciatic nerve. J Clin Orthop Trauma. 2013;4(2):89-92. doi:10.1016/j.jcot.2013.04.001
- Mariniello G, Malacario F, Dones F, et al. Sudden post-traumatic sciatica caused by a thoracic spinal meningioma. Neuroradiol J. 2016;29(5):390-2. doi:10.1177/1971400916655479
Dr. Dawn Runge holds a Doctor of Chiropractic and master's degree in nutrition. She has written more than 60 articles for a weekly health and fitness column owned by AOL News. She has also competed in fitness competitions, and enjoys dancing and reading. She resides in Orlando, Fla.