5 Behaviors That Can Aggravate Your Sciatica You Should Be Aware Of

Sciatica, lower back pain, sciatic nerve, sciatica symptoms

Sciatica is a fairly common cause of lower back pain, occurring when the long sciatic nerve becomes irritated or compressed, usually by a “slipped” or herniated disc. At One Oak Medical, we offer innovative and effective solutions for painful sciatica symptoms aimed at restoring normal health to the lower back area. Although lots of people suffer from sciatica symptoms, a lot of patients don’t know they can find some measure of relief simply by changing a few habits. Here are five ways your habits might be causing your sciatica symptoms to flare up.

1. Being overweight or obese

Carrying around extra pounds puts a lot of extra stress and strain on your entire musculoskeletal system, including your back and spine. When you carry a lot of pounds in the belly area, your center of gravity and your posture can also shift, putting a lot more strain on your lower spine and increasing the risk of developing a herniated or “bulging” disc. The change in posture can also cause nerve irritation and inflammation around the sciatic nerve, and the more overweight you are, the more severe your symptoms can be.  

2. Overloading your back pockets

Back pockets sure are convenient places to stash your wallet or cell phone. But if you make it a regular habit — and then you sit on the phone or wallet — you could wind up with significantly worse sciatica symptoms. That’s because when you sit on something very hard like your wallet, you compress your piriformis muscle, a small, important muscle located deep behind the gluteus maximus muscle (the primary buttocks muscle). Extending from the lower spine to the top of each thighbone, the piriformis muscle is located just over top of the sciatic nerve, so when the muscle is compressed, it can compress the nerve and increase irritation around it as well. To avoid placing pressure on the nerve, switch your wallet and phone to your front pocket (where they’ll also be better protected from thieves).

3. Wearing shoes with hard soles

A lot of people don’t make the connection between the feet and the back, which is too bad, because a lot of back problems might be remedied or relieved simply by paying more attention to what you’re wearing on your feet. Your feet provide the “anchor” for your body, and when you have very hard soles, high heels, or even flat shoes, the impact and force from walking and even standing still can be transferred up your legs and into your lower back. When your feet aren’t cushioned or supported properly, that “translates” into extra strain on your lower back, and that means more pressure on the sciatic nerve. High heels also tend to throw your body weight forward, placing extra strain on your hamstrings. Since the sciatic nerve travels along the same pathway as the hamstrings, the nerve can also become stretched and irritated, increasing your symptoms.

4. Being stressed out

Stress — particularly chronic stress — plays such a significant role in so many maladies, it’s no real surprise that it can affect your sciatica symptoms as well. When you’re stressed, irritation and inflammation tend to worsen, and since sciatica involves inflammation around the sciatic nerve, it makes sense your symptoms could worsen when you’re feeling anxious. Plus, being stressed often causes an increase in muscle tension, which can exacerbate irritation around the nerve. Stress may also interfere with the amount of oxygen you take in, and that means your cells may not get the oxygen they need to repair and heal themselves. Learning to de-stress may relieve your symptoms, and if you add in some relaxing yoga stretches, you might get double the benefit.

5. Wearing tight clothing

You might not realize it, but when you wear tight or restrictive clothing or clothing with very tight waistbands, you can squeeze the sciatic nerve too. Even though the pressure might not be directly on the nerve, when tight clothing compresses underlying muscles, they in turn can compress and irritate the nerve. And it’s not just your everyday attire — tight elastic in your underwear can have the same effect.

Get relief for your sciatica symptoms

Sciatica can cause a lot of discomfort, and even mild symptoms can wind up taking a toll on your everyday life and wellness. At One Oak Medical, we help patients get the care they need to finally find relief for their pain, numbness, and other sciatica symptoms. If you’d like to find out how we can help you feel better, book an appointment online today.

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