Various conditions lead to back pain and discomfort, including sciatica. If you have a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or osteoarthritis, you may have nerve compression, which leads to pain and weakness in your back and legs.
Sciatica can be severe and cause you to miss work or your normal daily activities. But what if you could prevent another flare-up from arising with a few simple tips?
At Peninsula Orthopedic Associates, our team specializes in treating various conditions that affect your body, including sciatica.
Our 10 orthopedic specialists diagnose the problem quickly and provide you with customized treatments to ease your symptoms and prevent further flare-ups.
Sciatica is a nerve condition that affects your back and legs. It's a broad term that doctors use for any nerve pain that originates around your spine and travels down your legs, even though it's named for your sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve begins near the base of your spine and branches out to travel down both legs — five essential roots in the sciatic nerve branch into smaller nerves that stop just below your knee.
True sciatica, or injury to the sciatic nerve, is rare. Still, doctors use this term for any nerve-related pain that starts in the low back and involves the legs.
Sciatica is nerve compression from an injury or degenerative condition that irritates one of the nerves in your spine. Symptoms typically include pain in the low back and numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs. These symptoms range from mild to debilitating and can last days to weeks.
Tips to prevent flare-ups
Although sciatica can be a complicated condition, there are steps that help prevent flare-ups from occurring. Our team offers these five tips to keep your sciatica from acting up and causing disability:
1. Learn good posture
Proper posture is essential when you're living with sciatica. It's crucial to learn good posture when sitting, standing, or lying down to prevent putting pressure on the nerves in your spine.
When you think of posture, always remember to keep your spine in proper alignment and avoid slouching or hunching over.
2. Lift with your legs
Sciatica flares develop from increased pressure on the spinal nerves. Lifting with your back is a surefire way to have your sciatica act up.
When lifting an object from the ground, bend your knees and use your leg muscles instead of bending at your midsection, which can hurt your back.
3. Watch your weight
Excess weight puts strain on your back and nerves. If you're overweight and are dealing with sciatica, losing even a small amount of weight can help. Incorporate a healthy diet with moderate exercise to keep your symptoms from coming back.
4. Exercise regularly
Although sciatica may have you preferring to sit around and rest, some physical activity is beneficial. Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and keeps your muscles and tendons loose, taking stress off your back and nerves.
Further, it's crucial to focus on building your core muscles, which support your spine.
5. Incorporate gentle stretching
Tight muscles and tendons can pull on the muscles in your back, leading to a sciatica flare-up. To avoid this, incorporate gentle stretching, especially in your hamstrings and glutes, to prevent nerve irritation in your spine.
When to see a doctor for sciatica
In some cases, you can manage sciatica symptoms without needing to see a doctor. You're in good shape if you can keep your pain at a tolerable level with lifestyle changes, rest, and over-the-counter medications.
However, if you can't seem to get your sciatica under control or you continue to have flare-ups, you must seek expert medical treatment. It's essential to come in for an evaluation if your pain lasts more than a week with home care or seems worse than before.
You should seek emergency care for sciatica symptoms if they occur after a traumatic injury or if you lose bowel and bladder control. These could be signs of a severe nerve condition in your spine that requires immediate medical care.
If you continue to have sciatica flares even with home care, don't hesitate to call our office in Daly City, California, today for a consultation with one of our specialists or book an appointment online.