Sciatica and Lupus: What Is the Link Between Lupus and Sciatica?

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The link between lupus and sciatica is not heavily researched. Although lupus is one of the causes of damage to the sciatic nerve, there exists very limited research about the relationship between sciatica and lupus.


Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body but most specifically the skin, joints, kidneys and other internal organs. Because lupus, also medically known as Systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, is an autoimmune disorder, this disease indicates that there is a problem with the body’s normal immune system response. Since this disorder is chronic, the symptoms of lupus usually last longer than six weeks and can even extend to several years.

In lupus, the problem with the immune system is that it cannot tell the difference between foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses and your body’s healthy tissues. Because of this dysfunction, the body produces antibodies that can potentially destroy the healthy tissues of the body. This results in pain, inflammation and other symptoms.

Lupus is a disease of flares, where symptoms can make the sufferer feel ill. It is not contagious. With proper medical care, one can manage this disease and lead a full life.


Based on the definition of PubMed Health, sciatica is a symptom of another underlying medical problem. This refers to the weakness, pain, numbness or tingling in one’s leg caused by injury to or compression of the sciatic nerve. Although this might be mistaken for a medical condition, sciatica is not a medical condition on its own.

The sciatic nerve starts from the spine to the back of each leg. This nerve controls the muscles located at the back of the knee and lower legs. Furthermore, this nerve provides sensation to the sole of the foot, lower legs, and the back of the thighs.

Sciatica is actually a common form of low back pain and leg pain. As a set of symptoms rather than a medical condition, it signals that something is not right within the body. The treatment of sciatica varies based on the underlying cause.

The Relationship between Sciatica and Lupus

Sciatica is not a very common symptom of lupus. While the majority of lupus patients do not experience problems with the sciatic nerve, special cases of sciatica with uncommon causes may be connected with autoimmune disorders. One of the autoimmune disorders that can cause damage to the sciatic nerve is lupus erythematosus.

Although the case of sciatica among lupus patients might be extremely rare, the usual treatment and pain management for lupus can effectively control sciatica in them. By employing NSAIDs and other non-medical approaches to alleviate the pain and symptoms, these rare cases of sciatica can be properly managed.

The Confusion Between Sciatica and Arthritis Pain from Lupus

The most common form of pain associated with lupus is pain from arthritis. Although sometimes confused with each other, sciatica and arthritis pain are actually very different. Sciatica is a form of radicular pain due to a pinched sciatic nerve. This kind of pain should only be experienced exclusively at the back of the leg, not in front or side.

Arthritis pain, on the other hand, is dull and achy. The intensity of the pain may vary and the pain can be experienced in the back as well as in other parts of the leg.


Sciatica is a set of symptoms that can be very painful. Extremely rare cases of sciatica might be caused by autoimmune disorders such as lupus. It is, however, important to diagnose sciatica correctly among lupus patient for proper treatment. This is because sciatica might be confused with the more common arthritis pain experienced by most lupus sufferers.