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Standing Desks and Sciatica

06 August 2021

Long working weeks are uncomfortable enough on their own, but sitting behind a desk all day may be excruciating when you have sciatica. Sciatica is a sort of pain that occurs when something, such as a herniated disc or a bone spur, presses down on the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your feet. This can result in a burning sensation, numbness, or tingling in your lower back, legs, or feet. Do those symptoms ring a bell? Keep reading.

Some claim that a standing desk can alleviate sciatica problems at work, but is this true? First, let's learn a little about sciatica.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, sciatica is defined as nerve pain following trauma or irritation to the sciatic nerve, which begins in the buttock/gluteal area. The sciatic nerve is the body's thickest and longest (nearly finger-width) nerve. True sciatic nerve "sciatica" injury is uncommon, although the term is widely used to describe any pain that begins in the lower back and spreads down the leg. This discomfort is caused by a nerve injury – an irritation, pinching, inflammation, or constriction of a nerve in your lower back.

Sciatica typically only impacts one leg at a time but can affect both legs. It simply depends on where the nerve is compressed along the spinal column. It may appear quickly or gradually and is determined by the cause. A disk herniation can cause excruciating agony, and spinal arthritis develops slowly over time. Sciatica is a frequent ailment. Sciatica affects around 40% of persons in the United States at some point in their lives. Back discomfort is the third most prevalent reason people seek medical attention.


  • A displaced or herniated disk that puts pressure on a nerve root. 
  • The improper constriction of the spinal canal is known as spinal stenosis. This constriction limits the amount of space available for the spinal cord and nerves.
  • Degenerative disk disease is caused by the normal deterioration of the discs that sit between the spine's vertebrae. The wearing down of the disks reduces their height, causing the nerve pathways to become narrower (spinal stenosis). Spinal stenosis can cause sciatic nerve roots to be pinched as they exit the spine.


  • Pain ranging from moderate to severe in your lower spine, buttocks, and down your leg.
  • Pain that intensifies with movements; loss of movement
  • Numbness or tingling in your lower spine, buttocks, leg, or feet
  • "Pins and needles" in your legs, foot, or toes.
  • Lack of bowel and bladder control.

Excessive sitting is at it again

If you sprain your ankle, sitting on the sofa with your foot elevated is a good option. However, sitting might aggravate your discomfort if you have sciatica pain, especially if you sit in an uncomfortable office chair for hours each day. Sitting puts a lot of strain on the discs between the vertebrae. This can worsen an already squeezed nerve and generate more irritation. 

What Can Be Done

Consider standing desks

The strains on the spinal discs in your lower back can intensify as you sit. As a result, extensive sitting may trigger your discs to pinch your sciatic nerve roots, exacerbating your sciatica. Using a standing desk might help reduce stress around the nerve roots in your lower back. Standing is an activity, and practicing an ergonomically assisted standing posture can alleviate lower back pain and help sciatica pain caused by a herniated or bulged disc. During your workday, alternate between sitting and standing postures, then gradually progress to extended periods of standing. 

Yes, they can be beneficial—but just as you wouldn't want to sit still all day long, you also don't want to stand still most of the day. To reap the rewards of a standing desk, you must remain active. It is not advisable to stay in one position for an extended time. Although standing is less painful for sciatica, it is vital to vary between postures for total spine health. Changing your position from sitting to standing is a helpful tactic to take care of your spine. Switch things up while you're working. Stand for 30 mins, sit for half an hour, or any other time breakdown that works best for you. Sitting in the same position all day is linked to various health issues other than back pain, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

You might want to think about getting a height-adjustable standing desk or sit-to-stand desk (not the fixed standing desks which do not have the height-adjustable function), which allows you to modify the height of your desk all through the day, so you're not confined in one position for long periods. 

Go for a stroll around every hour if possible

The movement of fluids during exercise, which also boosts blood circulation, provides nutrients to the spinal discs. According to research, minimal exercise, such as walking, may help increase the delivery of nourishing fluids to the disc and the disc's capacity to react to spinal strains. 

When your work entails sitting at your desk for long durations, try to get up every hour and walk a small distance. Take slow, deep breaths and walk with proper posture. Setting a regular alarm or reminder on your phone or computer to prompt you to take a short break and go for a walk every hour could be beneficial.

Be comfortable

You should also select a chair with lumbar support that is well-designed. Other essential seated advice includes avoiding crossing your legs and positioning yourself with your feet hands on the ground.  

Ascertain that the monitor is at arm's distance and that the top of the monitor is at eye level. Try not to reach. It is advised to have the keyboard and mouse near at hand. While sitting, keep your feet flat on the ground and do not be crossing your legs. Set your display to a reasonable height and work to a good distance to avoid pushing forward, which aggravates the pain. Identify duties that can be completed while standing, even at a standard desk, such as planning or making calls.

Final Thought

The benefit of a standing desk is how easily you can easily adjust it. The ability to switch from sitting to standing and back in a few seconds is a prominent aspect. Although standing desks can benefit individuals with sciatica, it is crucial for spine health to balance sitting and standing. When standing, pay careful attention to your posture. Sciatica symptoms can be exacerbated by poor posture. If you are unfamiliar with standing desks, you may learn more about them by visiting our website.

If your sciatica symptoms continue to disrupt your workday, see your doctor for a thorough diagnostic examination. Your doctor may advise you of other medical treatment alternatives.