Sciatica refers to symptoms caused by the compression and irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back to the feet, and when it is irritated, it can cause pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet.
Sciatica flare-ups can last anywhere between one and two weeks. Below, we asked Dr. Aashish Jay Kumar, our expert at Spine & Pain Specialists of the Carolinas, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, to explain what habits can trigger sciatica.
Weight challenges can increase a person’s risk for sciatica. If you’re carrying excess weight, especially in the midsection, your posture changes. That puts more pressure on your back.
The increased pressure can cause your discs in the spine to bulge and push against the sciatic nerve, causing irritation and inflammation.
Both heels and hard soles can be problematic, as the impact and force from walking are transferred to your lower back, putting strain on the sciatic nerve. You can reduce some of the impacts of walking by wearing comfortable, soft soles that absorb some of the force felt by your feet when walking on hard surfaces.
When you sit, all the weight from your upper body rests on your lower back. That compresses your lower spinal discs and increases the risk of a slipped disc and nerve irritation.
At work, try alternating between periods of sitting down at a desk and periods of working while standing up.
Chronic stress causes inflammation and makes your muscles tense. And since sciatica is often triggered by inflammation and pressure from nearby tissues, any change in inflammation levels and muscle tension could lead to flare-ups.
Some people try to cope with stress by smoking. Not only is that an unhealthy habit, but it also increases your risk of sciatica flare-ups. Smoking interferes with the oxygenation of the spinal discs, increasing the risk for slipped discs and nerve irritation.
Tight waistbands put pressure on the muscles, which, in turn, compress the nerve. Tight underwear or even shapewear can have the same effect on your sciatic nerve.
If you have recurring flare-ups of sciatica, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our experts will examine your lower back and suggest effective strategies to lessen the risk of pain and discomfort.