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Sciatica is the umbrella term used to describe the symptoms of a pinched sciatic nerve. The list of varied symptoms is about as long as the nerve itself, which runs from the small of your back down through your buttocks and all the way down each leg.
The latest studies show that more than 12.3 million Americans suffer from sciatica, and each one of them would tell you the same thing — prevent it if you can.
Here at Elite Physical Medicine, our team of chiropractic and occupational medical physicians specialize in treating and managing the pain and other symptoms associated with sciatica, but we’d much rather help you avoid it. Here’s how to keep it at bay.
Education is key to avoiding problems with your sciatic nerve. Once you know where it is, what it does, and how it becomes damaged, you’re better equipped to keep it healthy and pain-free.
We mentioned that your sciatic nerve starts in your lower back, but you may not know it’s the culmination of five different nerve roots all joining one another before traveling down the rest of your body. Its main job is to connect your spinal cord with the muscles and skin in your thigh, knee, calf, ankle, and foot.
If you damage your sciatic nerve, which is the longest one in your body, you may feel the symptoms anywhere along the path, which covers a lot of territories. And the symptom doesn’t always occur at the site of the irritation or compression, so if your sciatic nerve gets pinched in your back or in your bottom, you may feel it in your leg.
Some causes of sciatica are unavoidable. For instance, if you have arthritis, suffer an accident, or you’re pregnant or elderly, sciatica may occur no matter how hard you try to prevent it.
But some of the most common causes occur because of everyday habits. Poor nutrition, smoking, bad posture, and a sedentary lifestyle all put you at risk for sciatica because they endanger your spine. These avoidable habits make you more susceptible to herniated discs, bone spurs, and spinal stenosis — the chief culprits that press on your sciatic nerve.
The best way to sidestep sciatica is to keep your body and your back in the best shape possible and be mindful of the delicate sciatic nerve.
Committing to a regular exercise routine, especially one that focuses on the core muscles in your abdomen and lower back, can protect your spine and keep it well-aligned so your discs stay put.
Exercise and a nutritious diet also help you maintain a healthy weight, which goes a long way in keeping pressure off your spine and your sciatic nerve.
Slouching wreaks havoc on your back. When you sit in a chair — especially if it’s for hours on end at work — proper posture can mean the difference between getting or avoiding sciatica.
Keep your shoulders back, but relaxed; don’t lean forward; use the armrests on your chair; keep your hips and knees level; and place a small rolled pillow at the small of your back as a reminder to maintain its natural curve. Sitting this way relieves unnecessary pressure from your sciatic nerve.
Improper lifting techniques is one of the main causes of back injuries that lead to sciatica. When you lift anything, especially if it’s heavy, keep the load close to your body, let your legs do most of the work, and lift straight up without twisting — try looking up at the ceiling to keep your body aligned as you lift.
How you don’t move is just as important as how you do move. Believe it or not, just standing around all day can do a fair amount of damage to your sciatic nerve. If your job or hobby has you upright and immobile for long periods of time, put one foot on a box, stool, or another elevated object now and then to relieve the pressure.
Add sciatica to the long list of reasons to quit smoking. Nicotine weakens existing bone tissue, hinders new bone growth, and decreases blood flow, all of which puts your vertebral discs in danger.
The same things that help you prevent sciatica can also help you manage your sciatica if you already have it. But if you still need help overcoming the pain and other symptoms, such as tingling, numbness, and weakness, there’s hope.
Our team helps sciatica sufferers find much-needed relief from their symptoms through expert chiropractic care, therapeutic massage, nerve blocks, and trigger point injections. If you have questions about how to prevent or treat sciatica, contact us at one of our locations in Mason, Ohio, Lawrenceburg, Indiana, Hebron, Kentucky, or Batesville, Indiana, or book an appointment online today.
401 W Eads Pkwy. #320
Lawrenceburg, IN 47025, US