Sciatica is a condition that can cause a great deal of pain in the lower back and legs. For some people, sciatica flares up for seemingly no reason at all. If you are one of those people, you may be wondering what could be causing your sciatica flare-ups.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common reasons behind sciatica flare-ups that we see at our Chicago spine institute.

What Is the Sciatic Nerve?

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It extends from the lower back all the way down to the feet. The sciatic nerve is made up of several smaller nerves that come together at the base of the spine.

Pressure on the Sciatic Nerve

One of the most common causes of sciatica flare-ups is pressure on the sciatic nerve. This pressure can be caused by a variety of things, including:

  • Herniated discs
  • Bone spurs
  • Tumors
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity

Any of these conditions can cause the sciatic nerve to become compressed, which leads to pain and other symptoms like numbness or tingling in the legs. In some cases, this pressure can also cause the nerve to become inflamed, which can make the pain even worse.

Muscle Imbalances in the Hips or Pelvis

Another common cause of sciatica flare-ups is muscle imbalances in the hips or pelvis. These imbalances can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and lead to pain. Muscle imbalances are often caused by:

  • Tight muscles in the hips or buttocks
  • Weak muscles in the core or lower back
  • Injuries to the hip or pelvis area

If you have any of these conditions, you may be at risk for a sciatica flare up. To help prevent these flare-ups, it is important to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your hips and pelvis. You should also avoid any activities that put additional strain on these muscles, such as running or lifting heavy objects.

Stress Can Lead to Flare-Ups

Can stress cause sciatic nerve pain? Absolutely! Sciatica flare-ups can also be caused by stress. When you are under a lot of stress, your body produces hormones that can lead to inflammation. This inflammation can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause pain. To help reduce your risk of a flare-up, it is important to manage your stress levels and find healthy ways to cope with stressful situations.

Sleep is an important part of destressing. Read Tips for Sleeping Comfortably When You Have Lower Back Pain.

Other Causes of Flare-Ups

There are many other potential causes of sciatica flare-ups. If you experience frequent flare-ups, it is important to talk to your doctor so they can determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan that will work for you. In some cases, medication may be necessary to help manage the pain. In other cases, physical therapy or surgery may be recommended.


Sciatica flare ups can be frustrating and painful, but there are treatments available that can help. If you are struggling to find relief, talk to us about sciatica treatment in Chicago. With the right treatment plan, you can reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.