Sciatica pain is caused when one of the sciatic nerves, which run from your lower back, across your hips and down both legs, is compressed. It can be caused when one of the discs between your vertebrae is herniated, ruptured, or is degenerating. Other conditions can also lead to sciatica.
Patients suffering from sciatica pain often come in to see us at Revive Medical. Luckily, there are some things you can do that lower your risk of developing sciatica, as well as strategies for relieving the pain as quickly as possible when it flares. Here are 10 sciatica prevention tips we’d like to share:
Keeping the muscles in your abdomen and back strong is one of the best ways to prevent sciatica. Those muscles support your spine and are critical for good posture.
As with so many other health problems, smoking increases your risk for sciatica. If you need help quitting, discuss it with your provider when you come in for a visit. We offer guidance as well as helpful resources.
PAY ATTENTION TO POSTURE
Learn about proper posture for standing, sitting, and sleeping. When you practice good posture, the structures that surround your spine can provide maximum support, and that lessens the pressure on your lower back.
SIT FOR SHORT PERIODS, INTERSPERSED WITH STANDING AND WALKING
Sitting for long periods, as so many of us do, can make sciatica pain worse, and more likely to occur. Try to break up long stretches of sitting with periods of standing or walking.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Obesity raises the risk of sciatica. If you’re overweight, talk to your provider at Revive about a weight loss plan.
MAKE FLEXIBILITY A PRIORITY
There are lots of stretches that may help with sciatica pain, and making flexibility a priority can be a method of prevention. Whether you take a yoga class, stretch at home for a few minutes each day, or do some other form of exercise designed to promote flexibility, you’ll be lowering your risk of developing sciatica.
LEARN HOW TO LIFT
Improper lifting technique can lead to sciatica. Use your legs, even if you’re just picking up a sock from the floor. Instead of bending at the waist, squat rather than bending.
When you pick up something such as a bag of groceries, hold it as close to your body as you can. This takes pressure off your back and allows the rest of your body to help carry the load.
Ergonomics is the study of how work environments impacts your body. By applying the principles of ergonomics, such as having your desk at the correct height, you can protect your back and prevent sciatica.
ICE IT -- FAST!
If, through unfortunate mischance, you do have sciatica pain, ice your lower back as quickly as possible. Keep the ice on for 15-20 minutes, every 2-3 hours, for 24-48 hours. The ice will reduce the inflammation and calm the muscle spasms.
USE EXTRA SUPPORT
During a sciatica flare, or during times you know your back is likely to feel strain, consider using a support device, such as rolled up towel, against your lower back while you sit. A belt designed for back support may be a temporary help, too. Support devices aren’t a good replacement for strong muscles, but they can help for short periods of time.
If you want further information on how to implement any of these strategies for preventing sciatica, come see us. Make an appointment at Revive Medical by clicking the “book online” button or calling our office in Oklahoma City.