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The Link Between Sciatica and Being Overweight

The Link Between Sciatica and Being Overweight

Are you plagued by sciatica pain? You have plenty of company: As many as 40% of people will suffer from sciatica at some point in their lives, making it one of the most common types of back pain. 

Sciatica is a nerve-related condition, but lots of factors can cause sciatic nerve problems — including your weight. Treating sciatica successfully depends on tailoring your treatment to your risk factors, so you can feel better and, ideally, prevent your symptoms from recurring.

Led by Barabara Adonis, DC, the team at Easy Reach Chiropractic focuses on a holistic approach to sciatica care that treats the whole patient, not just the painful symptoms. That includes helping overweight patients understand the benefits of weight management in relieving sciatica pain.

Sciatica 101

Sciatica is a condition that happens when the sciatic nerve is irritated, inflamed, or compressed. The longest nerve in your body, the sciatic nerve exits your spine at your lower back and divides into two branches: one branch travels down the right leg, and one travels down the left leg.

When the sciatic nerve is “pinched” or irritated, you can have dull or sharp pain around your lower back, along with pain, numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation anywhere along that nerve pathway.

Lots of factors can cause or contribute to sciatic nerve irritation and compression, including repetitive bending or lifting, back strain, or poor posture. Today, being overweight or obese is recognized as a common contributing factor to sciatica and its symptoms.

Weight and sciatica

According to the CDC, roughly three-quarters of Americans are overweight or obese. That places all those people at an increased risk of a variety of medical problems, including lower back pain and sciatica. Why? It all comes down to biomechanics — the way your body moves and functions.

Your spine depends on a series of muscles in your midsection and back to support it and keep it strong and flexible. When we carry extra pounds — especially fat around our bellies and waist — it puts an added strain on those muscles. That strain is especially severe in the lower back, one of the most flexible parts of your spine.

Excess weight strains the muscles that help keep your spine in alignment, and over time, that can force your spine discs out of their normal positions between your vertebrae. When a disc slips out of place or herniates, it presses on your sciatic nerve, causing painful symptoms.

At the same time, extra weight throws off your body’s natural center of gravity, causing the natural curve of your lower back to shift. Even a slight change puts added strain on your back and “core” muscles, increasing the likelihood that your sciatic nerve will be compressed and irritated.

Treating sciatica

At Easy Reach Chiropractic, our team treats sciatica symptoms using a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatments. For people who are overweight, healthy eating and regular exercise are essential, not only for helping to drop those extra pounds, but also for relieving pain and preventing recurrence.

Weight loss is important, but it can take a while — and many people need additional help to relieve their symptoms at the source. Depending on your specific needs, we may recommend:

Often, our team combines these treatments with spinal adjustments aimed at improving circulation and reducing nerve compression for optimal healing.

Sciatica symptoms can affect just about every part of your daily routine — they can even interfere with your sleep. The good news is, we can help. 

To get relief for your sciatica symptoms, book an appointment online or over the phone at our Lake Worth or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, location today.

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