What’s Causing Your Sciatica and What To Do About It
Have you ever felt a shooting pain from your spine all the way along your leg? Chances are that you were experiencing sciatica. You are not alone.
Experts estimate that four in ten people in the United States will experience sciatica at some point in their life. In fact, back pain in general is the third most common reason people decide to visit their healthcare provider. Sciatica is one of the causes. Here is what you need to know about it.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is nerve pain that radiates from your lower back along your hips and buttocks all the way down your leg. It is named after the sciatic nerve, because the pain generally follows the path of this nerve.
Most of our chiropractic patients describe the pain as a sharp, or a shooting pain. They feel jolts of pain, or electric sensations running down one of their legs. Some of our clients also report stabbing or burning sensations.
Depending on the actual cause of sciatica, the pain can also be constant. You may feel worse after long periods of sitting down or standing up. It can also manifest when you stand up suddenly or twist your upper body. Generally, back pain caused by sciatica is worse in your legs than your lower back.
What Causes Sciatica?
Even though sciatica is named after the sciatic nerve, it is not usually an injury to this nerve that causes the pain we described above.
Sciatica occurs, for example, when a herniated disk in your spine compresses the sciatic nerve and pinches it. Overgrowths of bone, also known as bone spurs, are another reason. In rare cases, a tumor can press on the nerve. Illnesses such as diabetes can damage the actual sciatic nerve.
If a herniated disk has caused your sciatica, it is likely that the pain started suddenly. On the other hand, if arthritis is the reason behind your lower back pain, it may have developed more slowly.
What Other Risk Factors Are There?
Understanding what factors increase your risk for sciatica can help you prevent it from becoming a problem for you. As a chiropractor in Meridian, Idaho we know that there is no guarantee that you will never be affected, but there are lifestyle choices you may find helpful.
Herniated disks and bone spurs are often related to aging. Whilst none of us can prevent the natural wearing down of our spine, we can do a number of things to prevent associated problems.
Being overweight stresses your spine. For example, if you carry a lot of weight around your front, the muscles in your back have to work harder to compensate and lift that weight. Strains, back pain and other issue result from that. In turn, they can trigger the disk problems which lead to sciatica.
There is a reason that we have limits to what baggage handlers in airports can lift. Jobs that require heavy lifting can put you at risk, especially if you lift and twist your back at the same time.
At the same time, prolonged sitting can be equally bad for your back. If you work in front of a computer, make sure you take regular breaks and move around. Choose a seat that supports your lower back and watch your posture when you are sitting.
This is where back pain becomes a bit more complex to manage. As much as inactivity puts you at risk for back problems, so does exercise if you are not using your back correctly.
Your core muscles are the only support system for your lower back. If yours are weak, you are more likely to develop pain in this area. If weightlifting is part of your exercise regime, it is important to use proper techniques that protect your lower back from injury.
Even though improper exercise can contribute to lower back pain, staying active and moving your muscles, keeping flexible and toned will help prevent sciatica. If you are considering becoming more active and starting an exercise regimen, get expert advice to avoid future problems.
Diabetes increases your chances of nerve damage. This can affect the sciatic nerve.
By now scientists have proven beyond doubt that smoking has many adverse effects on your health. Nicotine can not only damage tissue in your spine. It can also weaken bones and speed up the wearing out of vertebral disks.
Choosing a healthy, active lifestyle and developing a sustainable exercise regime will help protect you lower back and prevent sciatica.
How Can A Chiropractor Help?
By the time you are reading this, you have probably tried painkillers and hot packs. Some people have success with those but consider visiting a chiropractor near you.
We are experts in assessing and working with musculoskeletal concerns. We can help identify the cause of your problems quickly. Give us a call today.
In addition to narrowing down the reason for your sciatica, our team will advise if you need to see another therapist or consult your doctor. Most often, treatments like massage and manipulation of the affected muscle provide relief.
Our muscles were made to be moved, like joints. Keeping them tightly in one position, which happens with prolonged sitting, will weaken your muscles. At the same time, overusing weakened muscles can predispose you to further injury.
We do the detective work for you. Plus, we are happy to provide straightforward, easy lifestyle changes that will get you moving once again without back pain! Call our office today at 210-408-6446 to schedule an initial consultation and evaluation.