Three Factors that Might Be Contributing to Your Sciatica

Sciatica Carolinas Center for Advanced Management of Pain

People with sciatica often describe the pain like a pair of scissors cutting their lower back or an electric shock that shoots through their lower back, buttocks, and legs. If you’ve experienced this type of pain, you most certainly know that immediate and consistent relief can be a life-saver.

Adequate pain management when dealing with sciatica can significantly improve your quality of life. Minimizing factors that aggravate your sciatica can help provide some relief.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica refers to the pain — affecting your back, hip, and the back of your leg — that’s caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve that begins in your lower back. Sciatica is most often caused by degeneration of an intervertebral disc, and only about 5% of the people diagnosed with sciatic nerve pain need surgery.

The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and is made up of many extended nerve roots, branching off from your lower back, into your buttocks, legs, and feet. You have one on each side of your body. Anything that irritates this nerve can cause pain, ranging from mild to severe.

Common causes of sciatica

Sciatica can be brought on by age, being excessively overweight, irritation, narrowing of the spinal canal, or breakdown of the discs that act as cushions between each set of vertebrae in your spine. Sciatica can come on gradually or suddenly, depending upon the areas of degeneration of bone or on the severity of the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

The pain radiates down your lower back, buttocks, legs, and even into your feet. You may sometimes experience a feeling of numbness, tingling sensations or burning sensations in those areas.

Are these three factors contributing to your sciatica?

Left untreated, sciatica can cause pain severe enough to greatly impair your quality of life. With the right treatment approach, you can control sciatica and live a healthy life. Certain factors contribute to sciatic nerve pain, and controlling them can help you better manage sciatica.

Sitting for prolonged periods

You may be surprised to know that injury isn’t the most common contributing factor in sciatica. If you’re struggling with sciatica and enduring painful flare-ups, it’s possible that you’re sitting too much.

Sitting for prolonged periods can cause the discs in your lower back to weaken. Over time, a weakened disc can bulge out or press against the sciatic nerve, causing the characteristic pain many sciatica sufferers are all-too-familiar with.

Humans aren’t designed to sit for hours at length. We’re meant to move and use our muscles. Whether you travel on long flights or have a job where you sit at a desk for several hours, it’s important to take breaks to get moving. Shifting your weight, standing at regular intervals, and moving your legs are ways to help ease the pressure caused by sitting too much.

Overweight and obesity

Excess body weight isn’t just an aesthetic issue. Carrying too much weight has a negative impact on your health in many ways, including causing back pain. Not only does excess body weight place a strain on your joints; it puts pressure on your spine. Prolonged spinal pressure damages spinal structures, leading to disorders like sciatica.

Poor posture

You’ve heard it all your life: “Sit up straight” and “Have good posture.” But you may not know that practicing good posture is vital to spinal health. Slumping in front of your computer at work, slouching when you stand or walk, and hunching over while holding your smartphone are bad news for your back. Poor posture can lead to a herniated disc and set the stage for sciatica.

You don’t have to live with the debilitating pain of sciatica. Let Carolinas Center for Advanced Management of Pain help you get relief from sciatic nerve pain. Schedule an appointment with one of our specialists by calling one of our six convenient locations in North and South Carolina.

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