Oh, My Sciatica – Answers to More Sciatica Questions
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
In our last article, we discussed what sciatica is as well as common symptoms. But we've only scratched the surface of this painful condition.
Who gets sciatica?
Sciatica rarely occurs before age 20, and becomes more common in middle age. It is most likely to develop around age 40 or 50. Some researchers have estimated it will affect up to 43% of the population at some point.
Risk factors for sciatica include:
· Age – as your body ages, common causes of sciatica, like herniated disks and bone spurs, can occur
· Obesity – if you’re overweight, this increases the stress on your spine and can contribute to changes that trigger sciatica
· Occupation – if your job requires you to twist your back, carry heavy loads or drive a motor vehicle for long periods, it increases the risk of sciatica
· Prolonged sitting – if you sit for long periods or lead a sedentary lifestyle, you’re more likely to develop sciatica than active person would
· Diabetes – since this condition affects the way your body uses blood sugar, it also increases your risk of nerve damage
Is sciatica serious?
Most people who experience sciatica get better within a few weeks or months and find relief without surgery. For others, however, the leg pain from a pinched nerve can be severe and debilitating. While rare, certain sciatica symptoms require immediate medical treatment and perhaps even surgery. Examples of these include progressive neurological symptoms (e.g. leg weakness) and/or the inability to control the bowels or bladder. Infection or spinal tumors can also cause sciatica.
Although most people recover fully from sciatica, sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage. See your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms:
· Loss of feeling in the affected leg
· Weakness in the affected leg
· Loss of bowel or bladder control
Can I prevent sciatica?
While prevention isn’t always possible, these steps can protect your back:
· Exercise regularly – To keep your back strong, pay attention to your core muscles — the ones in your abdomen and lower back that are necessary for proper posture and alignment. Ask your doctor to recommend specific activities.
· Sit correctly – Pick a seat with good lower back support, armrests, and a swivel base. Place a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level.
· Use good body mechanics - If you stand for long periods, rest one foot on a stool or small box from time to time. When you lift something heavy, use your legs and move straight up and down. Keep your back straight and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body. Avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously. Get help if the object is heavy or awkward.
It’s recommended that you see a doctor to help reduce your pain and to eliminate the possibility of a serious medical issue. Please contact us if your situation requires surgery.