Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, beginning in your lower back before branching off and running down each of your legs. If the nerve gets impinged at any point along this path, it can lead to a host of symptoms including pain, numbness, decreased range of motion and an inability to walk with a normal gait. If you’re cognizant about some of the risk factors that can increase your risk of sciatic nerve impingement, you can take some steps to mitigate your risk of sciatica. We highlight five of those factors in today’s blog.
Common Sciatica Risk Factors
While it pays to know all of these factors that can influence your sciatica risk, you’ll notice that not all of the items on this list are modifiable, so you’ll never be able to completely eliminate your risk of sciatic nerve impingement. However, the more you know about the condition and its onset, the better you’ll be able to protect your spine and sciatic nerve. Here are five common sciatica risk factors.
- Being Overweight – If you are obese or overweight, more pressure will be dispersed on your lumbar spine when you’re seated. Over time, this pressure can lead to inflammation that affects the sciatic nerve or vertebral degeneration that causes bone shifting and nerve impingement. Losing just a little weight can take a lot of pressure off your lumbar spine and sciatic nerve.
- Your Age – Here’s one of those factors that despite your best efforts, you’re not going to be able to control. Sciatica is much more common in individuals over the age of 50 because by this age, many people have experienced natural spinal degeneration. When spinal discs lose their height due to normal wear and tear, they are more prone to shifting and nerve compression.
- A Sedentary Lifestyle – Living a sedentary lifestyle or sitting for extended periods each day can increase your risk of sciatic nerve impingement. When you’re seated for long periods, a large amount of static pressure is expressed on your lumbar spine, as this can lead to inflammation and tissue degeneration. Stay active and break up long periods of inactivity to decrease your sciatic nerve compression risk.
- Diabetes – Diabetes is a health condition that can, among other things, increase your risk of sciatica. That’s because diabetes can lead to blood sugar imbalances that can increase your risk of nerve damage or irritation. If the sciatic nerve becomes affected by your diabetes, symptoms of sciatica can set in. Managing your diabetes and working to avoid the condition altogether can help to control your risk of diabetes-related sciatica.
- Genetics – Unfortunately, your sciatica risk may be tied to your genetics, which you can’t control. That said, you’re also not destined to have sciatica simply because your mother or father suffered from the condition. A number of spinal conditions like degenerative disc disorder and spinal stenosis that can increase your risk of sciatica have a genetic component, but you can work to counter this genetic risk by living an active lifestyle and working to improve your overall spine health.
Sciatic nerve impingement is not completely preventable, but you can work to lower your risk and effectively treat any issues by connecting with an experienced spine specialist like Dr. Sinicropi. For more information, or for help treating a different spinal issue, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at The Midwest Spine & Brain Institute today at (651) 430-3800.