Sciatica is essentially a symptom that consists of pain, tingling, muscle weakness, or numbness along the sciatic nerve. Inflammation or injury in the gluteal area or lower back of the body can irritate the sciatic nerve leading to various symptoms trailing down the leg in the back or even into the foot of the targeted side. People in their 40s have a much higher risk of developing painful sciatica, as well as individuals who work at jobs that involve heavy lifting or sit for long periods of time.
Common Causes of Sciatica
Overall, a herniated disc is the primary cause of sciatica, but it isn’t the only cause. The other main culprit behind sciatica is damage to the surrounding structures of the sciatic nerve. A prime example may include an injury to a joint in the hip area or lower back. Subsequent to the injury, the muscles in that particular area become stiff and tight in order to protect the vulnerable area to help it heal. Once the tissues are harmed, the body subsequently releases key chemicals to try and guard the area from further damage. These chemicals can work to irritate local area nerves. What's more, if the gluteal group of muscles become tight and stiff in response to a lower back injury, the possibility to compress or further irritate the sciatic nerve is a real potential.
Prevention of Sciatica
Some people are more prone than others for developing sciatica due to certain lifestyle factors and genetic history. However, there are key changes that you can implement to try and prevent sciatica from ever developing or keep it from coming back once your symptoms have disappeared.
Here are three helpful ways to prevent sciatica from developing:
- Strengthen your core muscles.
A strong, solid core helps protect joints, makes it easier to lift objects, and greatly decreases the chance of developing both knee and back injuries. You are utilizing your body's muscles much more efficiently if your core muscles are performing at their peak, which decreases the risk of injury and helps you recover faster from any past injuries.
- Take breaks from sitting.
Many people are forced to sit for long hours in order to do their jobs, while others simply have a long commute to work. All that sitting is taxing on the body, even though it's necessary for work. So, it's crucial that you take mini-breaks about every 30 minutes for at least a few minutes. Stand up and go for a short, brisk walk around your office area, do a bit of light stretching , and if there's an available set of stairs to climb, that's even better. The bottom line is to get up and get your body moving, even if it's just for a few short minutes at least every hour.
- Exercise on a regular basis.
Not everyone likes to exercise in a gym. But that shouldn't stop you from exercising at all. Pick something you like to do, such as cycling, swimming, dancing, walking, or even gardening to get your body in action. This will help keep your muscles and joints loose and free from pain and injury. Exercise is the antidote to aging. It keeps the entire body flexible, supple, and works to strengthen every muscle you have.