What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a type of pain that is caused by compression on the sciatic nerve. It typically only impacts one side of your body and can be felt from your lower back, through your hips and buttocks, and down the leg. This pain can be intense, but in most cases, surgery is not needed and the condition resolves itself over a period of time.

How does sciatica happen?

When the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, it’s usually due to a herniated disc or a bone spur. In some very rare cases, sciatica can be caused by a tumor that compresses the nerve. Damage to the nerve from diseases like diabetes can also cause sciatica.

Am I at risk?

Age is a major risk factor when it comes to sciatica because as we age there are often changes to our spines. Obesity is another risk factor because it increases the stress on your spine. It’s possible that certain occupations can also put you at risk. Carrying heavy loads, movements that cause your back to twist, or driving for long periods of time are all considered risk factors when it comes to sciatica. Similar to driving, sitting for long periods of time is another risk factor. And as mentioned earlier, diabetes can also increase your risk of nerve damage.

Although most cases of sciatica are temporary and resolve themselves, it is possible to suffer permanent nerve damage as a result of sciatica. This damage can cause weakness in the affected leg, loss of sensation, and even loss of bladder or bowel function.

How to Prevent Sciatica

You might not be able to fully prevent sciatica, but you can decrease your risk factors. Regular exercise and good posture go a long way when it comes to maintaining a healthy back. If you need to stand or sit for long periods of time, try to practice smaller movements where you can. Also, use care when lifting heavy objects so that you do not strain your back.

If you think that you might be suffering from sciatica, medical care can help you manage pain and even shorten the length of your experience with sciatica.