Working from home is the new normal and will likely remain as most people’s work environment through 2021. We’re slouching over kitchen tables, laying horizontally on our couches and all schlumped over our laptops working away. While the pandemic continues to spread, it is time to invest in your work from home set-up for the sake of your health. Makeshift work spaces can no longer cut it. It is taking a toll on our mental well-being, physical health and likely decreasing your productivity.

One condition that is becoming increasingly common is sciatica. Sciatica is pain stemming from the sciatic nerve. The Sciatic nerve branches from your lower back into your hips, buttocks and down into each leg. Sciatica is usually occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed. Sciatica can be caused by a herniated disk, bone spurs on the spine or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis).

More people are starting to experience the symptoms of sciatica while working from home due to sitting for long periods of time and not getting enough exercise. When we consistently sit for too long, especially with improper posture, core muscles can start to weaken and decrease flexibility in our hamstrings. This combination can increase the likelihood of low back and hip pain and in some cases cause sciatica.

Sciatica symptoms can be described as pain stemming from your buttocks and usually through one leg. It can range from a mild ache to sharp, burning sensation or severe pain. These symptoms can be worsened by coughing or sneezing, and prolonged sitting. Others report numbness.

Fortunately sciatica is treatable and in many cases will go away on its own. However, if the pain is severe, gets worse or lasts longer than a week, it is best to see your doctor. The best ways to prevent or treat mild sciatica is regular exercise, maintaining proper postures (looking at you all working from home), and taking care when lifting heavy objects or standing for prolonged periods of time.