Around 4 in 10 adults will suffer from sciatic pain in their lifetime – a simple enough stat which masks the misery felt by millions when enduring a bout of sciatica.
Understanding sciatica pain
Sciatic pain can range from infrequent and incapacitating to constant and infuriating. Symptoms can be potentially debilitating and can affect any part of the lower body, from the base of the back to the big toe.
NHS Choices suggest you should see a GP if your symptoms haven’t improved after trying some home treatments for a few weeks or if the pain is getting worse rather than better. But, there’s some things you may be doing right now that are making your sciatica more severe without you even realising it.
Carrying heavy loads and personal habits
Carrying a heavy purse, handbag, briefcase or suitcase can twist the back and exacerbate sciatic pain, so lighten the load when you’re out and about or travelling and you’ll feel the benefit.
Lots of people who suffer sciatic pain find that habits personal to them can make their symptoms worse. For example, some find that crossing their legs for periods of time makes sciatica worse.
Lifestyle factors such as smoking or being overweight can also aggravate sciatica and a healthy diet can help manage pain and inflammation, so choose whole grains and cut down on sugars and saturated fat.
Stress can bring on symptoms and can make pain worse, so stepping back from what’s putting you under pressure can help, as can a massage from a good therapist.
What can you do?
Keeping moving instead of laying down to ease the suffering is recommended when suffering bouts of sciatic pain. Being sedentary for large parts of the day can also increase symptoms.
Many people find that sitting for too long brings on their sciatic pain, but for a lot of people with jobs at desks or behind a counter, or who drive for a living, they have little choice.
Making some adjustments, such as requesting a desk that can be stood at can help, as can making colleagues aware you need to move on a regular basis. Lots of people find that a specially designed cushion helps when sitting as it gently stretches the sciatic nerve whilst easing pressure on it.