How to Beat Sciatica and Prevent a Recurrence

Sciatica Advocate Integrated Medicine

Aches and pains are common as we get older, or after vigorous exercise. But when the pain worsens to a point that your life is disrupted, it could be something more serious. Your doctor may diagnose you with a common condition called sciatica.

What Exactly Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is when the nerve in your lower back – the sciatic nerve – experiences compression or irritation. Your sciatic nerve reaches down both sides of your body, including through the backs of your thighs, calves, and feet, making it a nerve you don’t want to ignore if it causes you pain: much of your mobility depends on it!

There are many causes for experiencing sciatica, including changes in posture as a result of pregnancy or weight gain, spinal injuries, joint dysfunction, arthritis, or hernias. While an active and healthy lifestyle is important, some people experience sciatica from athletic activities such as running, or through other contact sports. But sitting for long periods of time can also trigger sciatica, especially if you sit with poor posture or in an uncomfortable chair at the office without taking many breaks to get up and walk around for a bit.

Doctors also caution against sitting for too long with large, bulky objects in your back pockets, such as a wallet or iPhone, as these objects can put pressure on the sciatic nerve without your realizing it.

How Can My Doctor Tell If I Have Sciatica?

If you think you’re experiencing sciatic pain, consult your doctor right away, describing the pains you’re having as specifically as possible. He or she will conduct a physical exam involving orthopedic tests to see which movements, structures, or positions irritate your sciatic nerve most. Diagnostic testing may also include X-rays or an MRI exam, especially for patients whose sciatic pain may be related to hernias, arthritis, or ruptured discs. Your doctor will prescribe treatment options based on your test results.

How Does Sciatica Treatment Work?

Depending on the cause of your sciatica, your doctor may recommend some chiropractic adjustments, electrical nerve stimulation, soft tissue therapy, or specific exercises for rehabilitation.

While sciatica is treatable, there is much you can do to prevent it from occurring in the first place. You may want to consider some lifestyle changes, such as modifying your workout, and switching your office chair to one that offers better back and muscle support, relieving pressure on your sciatic nerve. It’s also a good idea to take breaks whenever you can, just to walk around and stretch your muscles for a bit before returning back to work. Sitting in the same position for too long can cause you pain later.

If you think you might have sciatica, you can request an appointment with Dr. Dunne at Advocate Integrated Medicine. You can also book an appointment by phone at 423-212-6367.

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