Up to 80% of adults in the United States report dealing with back pain at some point in their lives, and a large number of these complaints stem from sciatica. This debilitating condition not only affects your lower back, but the symptoms also can travel down your buttock and leg on one side, limiting your life in significant ways.
At New Hampshire Regenerative Center LLC, we partner with our patients to help them lead healthy and active lives, free from pain. To that end, we’ve pulled together the following list of five factors that may make you more vulnerable to sciatica to raise your awareness and help you reduce your risk of developing this painful condition.
- Sit up and take notice
Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. It originates in your lower back and travels down the backs of both of your legs to your feet. If your spine is continually compressed, especially in the lumbar region, you may be more at risk of irritating the sciatic nerve roots in the area.
One of the most common ways people develop sciatica is through prolonged sitting, especially with bad posture. If you spend hours at your desk each day, you can be causing alignment problems in your spine, especially at the lower end, which bears most of your sitting weight. Throw in a slumped posture, or one that favors leaning in one direction over the other, and you can understand how your spine may not be in an optimal position.
This prolonged position not only bears down on your lower back, but it also can cause nerve compression and sciatica. So sit up straight and take frequent breaks to stretch and move your back throughout your day.
- An extra burden
Another factor that may put you more at risk of developing sciatica is being overweight or obese. Unfortunately, this includes two-thirds of the U.S. population. Your musculoskeletal structure is designed to carry only what’s right for your body type, so when you’re carrying extra weight, you’re placing pressure on a system that wasn’t made to handle the load.
This added burden can cause your spine to compress and irritate the nerves in the area, including the sciatic nerve in your lower back.
- Listen up, ladies
There are any number of reasons why high-heeled shoes are bad for you (just ask your podiatrist), and we’re going to add the potential for low back problems to that long list. By throwing your balance forward, you affect the alignment in your hips and back, which can compromise your sciatic nerve.
Lowering your heels and wearing shoes with good cushioning and support are great ways to stave off back pain.
- On the job
If your work involves a fair amount of lifting and rotating, you need to do everything you can to protect your lower back. If you’re unduly taxing this area, day in and day out, the wear and tear can lead to inflammation that irritates your sciatic nerve.
To offset this potential problem, wear a back brace, get your knees more involved, and strengthen the areas you’re stressing so they can handle the workload.
- An inevitable force
One of the main causes of sciatica is a pinched nerve at the hands of a herniated or ruptured disc — and the leading cause of a herniated disc is degenerative disc disease, which comes with age. As you get older, your bones lose density and the discs that separate your vertebrae lose moisture content, causing them to rupture or deflate.
While there’s little you can do about aging, you can take an active role in maintaining good overall health as you get older, noting the other four factors above to reduce your risks of developing sciatica.
If sciatica does strike, rest assured that we have the tools you need to find relief. To learn more about sciatica and how you can prevent it, please don’t hesitate to call our Manchester, New Hampshire, office. Or you can use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up an appointment.