Sciatica is one of those things that you might think you won’t have to worry about until later in life. As one Well+Good editor (hi, Abbey!) recently learned the hard way, however, back and hip pain symptoms can and do happen to active younger people, and our lifestyles, which tend to involve extremes of intense activity and longterm sitting, are mostly to blame.
"Sciatica is an umbrella term that refers to a shooting pain that goes down the leg, typically from the back though the buttock and the back of the thigh and all the way down the leg," says Charles Kim, MD, assistant professor in the Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine and Anesthesiology at NYU Langone, adding that these symptoms can be caused by a number of different things. Some common culprits? Hip problems and lower back irritation, or more seriously, a pinched nerve or herniated disk in your back. What’s more, sciatica is commonly diagnosed in those who are active. "Even the healthiest people get sciatica, the fittest athletes get sciatica," he says, noting that he’s seen patients who run the full spectrum of activity levels.