Back pain is a common ailment that’s responsible for a high level of work absences each year. This blog explains what causes sciatica and how the symptoms arises. Sciatica is sometimes a symptom of back pain that has progressed to leg pain that is relatively easy to identify.
What does sciatica mean?
The bones in your back (vertebrae) are separated by flat, round cushions of tissue. Your sciatic nerve runs from your lower back down through your buttocks and down your leg. When one of the discs of connective tissue becomes compressed over time, or damaged because of injury, it can bulge out from between your vertebrae creating what is sometimes called a ‘herniated disc’. It is actually four nerves from the lower back that combine together to make the sciatic nerve. The nerve roots are not used to having something pressing on up against them, and this abnormal pressure can cause nerve pain. This is sciatic pain, and a herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica symptoms. The pain that can be experienced in different part of the leg relates to nerve root pressure at different parts in the lower back.
What causes sciatica?
As sciatica is often caused by overuse or injury, it is most commonly diagnosed in people over 40. Being overweight or for women being pregnant can increase the risk of developing sciatica symptoms because the extra weight carried leads to increased pressure on discs and the lower back in general. A sedentary lifestyle is another risk factor, with those spending a lot of time at a desk having a greater chance of suffering from sciatica. Carrying heavy weights incorrectly, either at work or in leisure time, can lead to disc injuries that can lead to sciatic pain, too.
How can you avoid sciatica?
To avoid putting yourself at high risk be sure to practise safe lifting tips when carrying heavy objects and try to stay mobile, fit and healthy. Lose excess weight if you can. Not only will this reduce your risk of sciatica, but you’ll generally be healthier and at lower risk of all kinds of injuries and poor health. See a health care professional as soon as you feel back pain as early treatment can help to prevent severe discomfort.