Your sciatic nerve starts at the base of your spine and travels down each leg, all the way to the bottom of your foot. It’s the largest nerve in your body, and for many people, it’s a source of significant pain.
Sciatica affects an estimated 40% of Americans at some time during their lives. Symptoms are often described as a burning, shooting pain sensation that affects one side of the body. It may be worse after you’ve been in the same position for a long time or after you’ve lifted heavy objects.
Sciatica pain may disappear with a few weeks of at home care, but it often returns throughout your life. At Bryn Medical, our team is here to help you find long-term solutions for your sciatic nerve pain.
Age and preexisting health conditions like diabetes could put you at greater risk of sciatica. But as it turns out, it could be your bad habits that are making your sciatica worse. It might be time to implement some healthy lifestyle changes if you:
Live a sedentary lifestyle
Between commuting to and from work, sitting at a desk during the day, and watching TV or browsing social media in the evenings, many people live sedentary lifestyles. Inactivity is a leading cause of sciatica, because sitting in one position for a long time creates inflammation that compresses the sciatic nerve.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent and treat sciatica. Consider adding an activity like walking, swimming, or yoga to your daily routine to reduce pain and inflammation. If you’re not sure what activities are safe for you, ask us at Bryn Medical.
Obesity is also linked to sciatica. Carrying extra body weight puts extra strain on your spine, making it more likely that you’ll suffer a herniated disc. Increasing your activity level can help minimize back pain in the short term, but it can also help you lose extra pounds in the long run.
Have bad posture
Proper posture aligns your spine and keeps your body in balance, whether you’re standing or sitting. But common bad habits, like slouching in your chair or carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder, can damage your spine over time.
Bad ergonomics and bad posture create stress on your spine, making it more likely that you’ll suffer an injury or develop nerve pain. To kick this bad habit, make a point of sitting and standing up straight, keeping your head and neck square above your shoulders.
Along with bad posture, sitting in the same position for long periods of time may make sciatica worse.
If you’re sitting in a car or at your desk, take regular breaks to stretch. Walking around and performing some gentle stretches not only reduce your risk of sciatica, but can also help calm a flare-up.
Picking up boxes or other heavy objects is unavoidable, whether you’re doing chores around the house or you’re at work. But lifting incorrectly is a leading cause of back injury and sciatica.
Lifting weight with your back — instead of your legs — increases your risk of suffering a spinal injury and nerve pain.
Introduce proper lifting techniques to take stress off your back. Keep your back straight when you bend down and lift heavy items with your legs. Move up and down and avoid twisting to prevent spinal injury.
Everyone has bad habits, but you don’t have to kick them alone. Talk to our pain specialists at Bryn Medical to get healthy tips for improving your sciatica and your quality of life. Call us today or schedule a free consultation using our online tool.