Sciatica is one of those conditions which is so common, it’s almost considered normal. While mild Sciatica can be just another irritant in our lives, however, more serve cases can make everyday movement difficult and painful – but when Sciatica is so common, is there really anything we can do to prevent it?
When we see new patients at our clinic complaining with Sciatic pain, it’s notable that a large majority of them cannot recall exactly when the pain began or if there even was an incident which they can clearly point to as the cause. It’s easy to understand how lifting a heavy object at work, sustaining a blow of some kind or being stuck all day with a terrible desk setup can result in an injury to your back and the supporting structures. Sciatica, however is often “creeping” starting out as mildly uncomfortable and slowly becoming more and more painful. Sometimes the pain seems to level off – many people develop a mild case of Sciatica and live with it for years before someone mentions to them that treatment options exist!
Complicating matters further, Sciatica, unlike many conditions we treat at the clinic, is also defined as a set of symptoms, rather than a specific problem – therefore in every sense, sciatic pain and it’s root cause really can be a bit of a mystery…. So can we prevent it?
Top tip to prevent Sciatica
Even if Sciatica can be a bit of a mystery, our experience, and recent research has shown that a common feature of modern day life may be driving many cases of Sciatica – the cause?… too much sitting!
When you spend hours per day sitting down, the muscles that support your low back aren’t regularly activated, so they can start to atrophy or weaken. This, in turn, can lead to imbalances in your back that then result in increased pressure and stress on your spine. Without the support of the stabilizing muscles your spine relies on to keep your vertebrae, discs, and nerves in balance and aligned, you’re more likely to injure your back in some way which puts pressure on the Sciatic nerve – and that’s what causes the discomfort.
This is perhaps why so many people with Sciatic pain don’t remember a painful event when their pain started – the event which actually set the problem off may have been incredibly minor and not something most of us would ever think of as an “injury”.
The great news is that this weakening of the supporting muscles around the low back is easy to counteract – in an immediate sense stretching, for example, before and after any physical activity can help you both improve your flexibility and reduce your chances of experiencing a number of avoidable injuries. Over the longer term, research also indicates that consistent exercise can stop or even reverse the effects of too much sitting, so that Incorporating just 30 minutes of exercise each day can help strengthen the supporting muscles around your spinal column to help prevent future episodes of sciatica.
Research also shows that periodic spinal adjustments can have a part to play in both the correction and prevention of conditions that can cause sciatica pain. In fact, the top research journal SPINE found that maintained chiropractic care can help to evaluate, detect, and potentially prevent future disc problems and low back pain episodes. Importantly however, Chiropractic care cannot strengthen your muscles for you, so if you’re serious about preventing sciatica you’ll need to commit just a small amount of time each day to improving the health of your lower back as a whole.
On a practical level, simply getting up, stretching and moving at least once an hour can make a big difference, and If you’re looking for some more targeted stretches and exercises designed to target the low back in a safe and effective way look no further than an appointment at Complete Chiropractic!
 Maintained Spinal Manipulation Therapy for Low Back Pain. SPINE. 2011.