Category: Nerves | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body, extending from your lower back all the way down your leg. As a spine specialist, we oftentimes help patients who have sciatic nerve impingements in their lower back or hip area. This is a common development during pregnancy or after the childbirth process as the body undergoes some physical changes.
However, sciatic nerve problems aren’t isolated to new or expecting mothers. In fact, another group that we often help with sciatica nerve problems are males in their 30s or 40s. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at why this group can be plagued by sciatic nerve problems and how we can help treat them.
Sciatic Nerve Problems In Men
Because the sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, it can easily become impinged or damaged at any point along its path. Oftentimes this impingement occurs in the lumbar spine or in the hip or buttocks region because there is generally a lot of pressure and movement in this area. When you’re seated for an extended period, it’s your lower back that absorbs this pressure, and over time this can contribute to nerve impingement.
But why are younger men a group that are often affected by sciatic nerve problems? Mainly because they are the group less likely to pay heed to some of the warning signs of a problem, making it more likely that sciatic nerve pain will develop. For example, young men are generally more likely to have poor seated posture on the couch or in the car, they may be more likely to work manual labor jobs that put extended stress on their lower spine, and they may be more likely to perform physical movements without the proper techniques that can help to save their back.
This group can also develop sciatic nerve pain from activity and physical injury. Many men in this age have a wake up moment during physical activity when they realize they aren’t as young as they once were. It’s great that you’re still challenging your body with activity, but you need to be smarter about your movements in order to help to protect your sciatic nerve and your spine. In college you may have been able to eat four slices of pizza and then go play ultimate frisbee without warming up, but if you tried that in your 40s, it would be a recipe for inflammation and pain. You need to take your time warming up to physical activity, listen to your body and know your limits, and make sure your dietary choices don’t put you at risk for weight gain or inflammation, which can exacerbate sciatic nerve issues.
We’re making a lot of assumptions about the daily habits of younger and middle aged men, but weight gain, posture issues and chronic physical stress are three of the most common issues associated with sciatic nerve pain, and we see it time and time again amongst this demographic group. The good news is that they are young and their body should be receptive to treatment, which we’ll touch on below.
How Men Can Treat Sciatic Nerve Problems
Sciatic nerve issues oftentimes respond well to treatment, especially in younger patients, so long as treatment starts while the problem is in its infancy. Therein lies the biggest issue for younger men with sciatic nerve pain – they typically aren’t going to take the time to set up an appointment with a spine specialist about their issue. They’ll mention it to their wife or complain about their pain when playing hoops with their buddies, but they won’t take tangible steps to improve the issue, and that’s a problem. Because if they keep doing the same things that led to a problem in the first place, the condition isn’t going to go away. In fact, it’s likely to get worse, and that decreases the likelihood of successful treatment.
Instead of just dealing with sciatic nerve pain and hoping it goes away on its own, sync up with a specialist. Once they’ve pinpointed where the issue is in your sciatic nerve, they can set you up with a simple targeted treatment plan. In many cases, this involves a combination of:
- Physical Therapy
- Stretching Exercises
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications
- Weight Management
- Posture Improvements
The majority of patients notice partial or complete pain relief by sticking to a treatment plan that involves a few of the above points for a few weeks, but in the rare cases where pain remains stagnant or worsens, we have more hands-on treatment at our disposal. Those treatments include corticosteroid injections and even decompression surgery, but again, oftentimes it doesn’t get to this point.
So if you’re dealing with back pain, numbness or tingling in your back or butt, or a nerve issue is affecting the way you walk, take the time to set up an appointment and sync up with a specialist. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to regain control over the situation. For more information, give Dr. Sinicropi and his team a call today at (651) 430-3800.