What is the Difference Between Low Back Pain and Sciatica?

November 07, 2023

low back painMillions of Americans suffer from low back pain every year, and while the reasons for that range, it’s often self-diagnosed as sciatica.

Sciatica has become a go-to term for those with any pain in the lower back, but in many cases, that’s not the condition causing the discomfort.

It’s always important to learn the reason for your pain so you can get the correct treatment plan and learn how to better support your body.


In this post, we’ll go over the difference between low back pain and sciatica and give you some insight into:

• Reasons for and conditions that cause low back pain (besides sciatica)

• What sciatica is

• Symptoms of sciatica

• How you can naturally relieve low back pain

• Chiropractic solutions for low back pain and sciatica


If low back pain affects your life and keeps you from the activities you enjoy, read on to learn how to take back control and get pain-free.


Why You Have Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain may be due to a chronic condition, a sports injury, a traumatic event, improper movement, or plain, old wear and tear. Whatever the reason is, we know you want it gone–and fast.

The first step is knowing why you’re experiencing lower back discomfort.

Some common conditions that may be affecting the spine, joints, and soft tissues of the back include:

Disc herniation or disc injury

• A sprain or strain

• Inflammation

• Scar tissue


• Arthritis

• Degenerative disc disease

• Whiplash


Because of the connectivity within the musculoskeletal system, imbalances in one area of the body can cause pain in other areas. For instance, a neck injury can put pressure on soft tissues in the back and cause lower back pain and loss of mobility.

Your local chiropractor can determine where and what the injury that’s causing your low back pain is and implement a healing plan that helps the injury heal so your back regains comfort and function.

However, your chiropractor will go one step further and discuss why the injury likely occurred. This is a vital piece of the puzzle when you suffer from lower back discomfort because it can help you avoid future imbalances.


You and your chiropractor may go over any of the following:

• Posture and an ergonomic workstation

• Sleeping habits and position

• Lifting techniques

• Lifestyle choices

• Sedentary behavior patterns

• Movement patterns

• Exercises and stretches

• Warm-ups and cooldowns

• Rehabilitation techniques

• Past injuries and medical history

• And more


There are so many reasons that can contribute to low back dysfunction, so speak to your chiropractor to ensure you get trusted, safe, non-invasive solutions for the correct condition.

Learn how to relieve back pain after sitting for long periods.


Do I Have Sciatica?

Sciatica is pain that occurs along your sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in your body. It starts in the lower back and runs through each buttock and down each leg. Because it spans the lower half of the body, sciatica pain can be felt in the low back, hips, buttocks, and throughout the length of the legs.

Typically, sciatica pain is due to pressure placed on the soft tissues that affect the nerve in the surrounding area and is often a side effect of a herniated disc.


Common symptoms of sciatica include:

• Pain ranging from mild to severe

• Radiating pain from one area along the sciatic nerve into another

• Low back discomfort and stiffness

• Muscle spasms in the affected area

• Weakness in the leg and foot


These symptoms can be relieved by treating the cause of your discomfort and helping the injury heal.


At-Home Low Back Pain Relief

If you’re on our blog, you likely want natural lower back pain relief because you lead a healthy and active lifestyle–or that’s your goal. We commend you for that, and below are a few tips to help you get safe, effective, natural back pain relief from the comfort of your own home.


Get plenty of rest and quality sleep

You may want to push through your back pain, but unless you have direction from a healthcare provider, you should listen to your body and allow it to rest. As we rest and when we sleep, our bodies have time to recover and restore. This is especially true for injured areas.

Discontinue any motions or activities that are causing you pain until you visit your chiropractor and get the all-clear, and learn the movements you can do that will help you, not harm you.


Use ice on the affected area

Ice is an excellent way to reduce inflammation and swelling, which is often a contributor to low back pain. Because sciatica occurs due to inflammation, ice is effective at relieving the discomfort by helping the tissues heal and offering a numbing sensation that can also reduce pain.

When applying ice to the body, be sure to put a cloth between the ice pack and your skin.


Gently stretch, massage, and move the back

Yes, rest is important, but gentle movements that reduce pressure and promote relaxation and flexibility are also important.

Again, you want to listen to your body and stop any actions that heighten your pain. These movements and tissue manipulations are meant to make you feel better and contribute to a natural healing process.

Try these stretches for sciatic relief.


West Seattle Sports ChiropractorChiropractic for Sciatica & Low Back Pain Relief in Portland & Seattle

At Tangelo, we never underestimate the power of the body’s natural healing process. Our team will thoroughly assess your movement patterns and listen to your pain points so we can develop a wellness plan that ends your low back pain at the source.


We know you want back pain relief fast. Some of the chiropractic care and therapeutic remedies we offer include:

Chiropractic adjustments

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization

Kinesiology taping

Functional rehabilitation

• Take-home exercises and lifestyle guidance

• And more


It may be difficult for you to determine why you have lower back pain on your own, but you don’t have to figure it out solo. Our experienced chiropractic team will provide solutions to cater to your injury and comfort.

We invite you to book your appointment today with one of our Seattle or Portland chiropractic care locations.