You know when your sciatica is behaving badly. Blazing pain shoots down your leg; your lower back and hip feel like they’re being tortured. Don’t dismay. Dr. Chris Blaha at Motion Medical Center can help prevent your sciatica from acting up. Here’s how.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to the pain and discomfort caused by problems with your sciatic nerve, the large nerve that descends from your back and down both legs. When you injure your sciatic nerve, or when something puts pressure on it, pain can start in your lower back, spread to your hip, buttocks, and down your legs into your foot.
The pain of sciatica often comes on suddenly, is typically sharp, and can be debilitating. It usually affects only one leg, which can feel weak, numb, or tingly. The discomfort worsens when you cough, sneeze, or sit. And it can persist for weeks.
Generally, any condition or disease that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve can cause sciatica. The most common causes include:
- Ruptured disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Back injuries
- Pregnancy that puts pressure on the back
- Degenerative arthritis of the spine
- Wearing fat wallets in your back pants pocket (really!)
How to prevent sciatica from acting up
Once you have sciatica, ice packs, medicine, and occasionally surgery can reduce symptoms. So to borrow from a familiar phrase, preventing sciatica is worth a pound of cure.
Lift objects correctly (no matter how light)
Hold objects close to your chest, straighten your back, then lift with your hips and legs.
Regular exercise, often called the fountain of youth, strengthens your back and abdominal muscles, which support your spine.
Smoking can promote spine degeneration.
Avoid sitting for a long time
Sitting for hours can compress your sciatic nerve. When sitting, slightly elevate your knees, which reduces pressure on your back and spine. Remind yourself to stand every 20 minutes. If possible, use a sit-stand desk.
Check your posture
Make sure you use good posture when sitting, standing, and walking. Good posture takes pressure off your back and can prevent nerve compression around your spine.
Here are sciatica treatment options
When your sciatica acts up, you can treat the pain and discomfort in several ways.
Apply heat and ice for 20 minutes every two hours. Use over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce discomfort. Try to remain active with yoga, tai chi, or short walks because motion can help reduce inflammation. If your sciatica is severe, steroid injections into the spine area can reduce inflammation and pain.
Is sciatic pain making you miserable? Discuss your treatment options with Dr. Blaha. Call our Gardnerville, Nevada, office, or book an appointment here by clicking the button.