If you have sciatica, you have a lot of company. As many as 40% of Americans wind up suffering from painful sciatica symptoms at some point during their lifetimes.
But just because sciatica is common, that doesn't mean it can’t cause serious health problems. Not only can the pain of sciatica disrupt your normal routine, including your sleep, but without medical treatment, it could lead to permanent nerve damage.
With offices in Lake Geneva and Franklin, Wisconsin, Midwest Sports and Interventional Spine helps patients relieve painful sciatica symptoms and prevent them from recurring.
Double board-certified and Harvard-trained physician Cyril Philip, MD, uses a patient-centered approach that focuses on both medical intervention and lifestyle changes to help each patient enjoy optimal relief.
5 common habits that can trigger sciatica
Sciatica happens when the sciatic nerve is pinched or compressed where it leaves your spine in your lower back. Medical treatment can help correct underlying spine problems that could be causing compression.
In the meantime, Dr. Philip recommends a few simple habit changes that can provide a significant amount of pain relief. Here are five habits that could be triggering your symptoms.
Wearing the wrong shoes
When it comes to back pain, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to your feet or your shoes. But what you put on your feet can make a big difference in your back comfort.
That’s because your feet support your back, and when you wear ill-fitting shoes or high heels, you put uneven and excess strain on your knees, leg muscles, and hips.
Plus, high heels shift your hips slightly forward, throwing off your balance and putting more strain on your lower back. Uncushioned soles worsen the effect by providing poor shock absorption for your spine and nerves.
Carrying too many pounds
Women may develop sciatica during pregnancy as the growing baby throws off their posture and puts added stress on the lower back. The same thing happens when you’re overweight, especially if you carry those extra pounds around your belly, waist, or butt.
When you’re overweight, being active also becomes problematic. When you don’t exercise regularly, your back muscles, ligaments, and tendons stiffen, making back pain a lot more likely.
Spending too much time sitting
Americans sit a lot. We sit in our cars, at our jobs, and in front of the computer or TV while we unwind at night. In fact, every day, the average American spends as much as eight hours sitting.
All that sitting may sound relaxing. But your back (and the rest of your body) depends on regular movement and activity to stay healthy. When you sit too much, your circulation suffers and your muscles don’t get a chance to stretch.
Sitting also puts pressure on your buttocks, which in turn compresses the sciatic nerve.
Loading up your back pockets
Remember the “Seinfeld” episode when George’s overstuffed wallet was causing him a lot of back pain? It made for good comedy, but it can actually happen.
When you stuff your back pockets with your phone, your wallet, or other heavy items, you compress your muscles every time you sit down. That added pressure is all it takes to irritate your sciatic nerve and trigger your symptoms.
Wearing tight pants
When it comes to your slacks, your pockets are just one concern. You should also consider the way your pants fit.
If your pants are tight around the waist, belly, hips, or buttocks, they wind up compressing your muscles and other soft tissues in these areas. In turn, that compression squeezes the sciatic nerve, triggering painful symptoms.
Get help managing sciatica pain
To manage painful sciatica symptoms, just a few simple changes to your routine could be all it takes to help you feel better.
To learn how Dr. Philip and our team at Midwest Sports and Interventional Spine can help you find relief for your sciatica, book an appointment online or over the phone today.