What Causes Sciatica to Flare up and How Can It Be Treated?
Did you know that as many as 40% of people in the United States have problems with sciatica at some point during their lifetime? Sciatica can cause significant pain and really impact your mobility on a daily basis.
Once you have sciatica, the pain can flare up again in the future. So, it’s essential to understand what causes sciatica to flare up and what you can do to prevent it.
Keep reading this guide to learn about sciatica flare-ups so you can return to the activities you love!
Overview of Sciatica
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your entire body. It’s also the thickest and almost as wide as a finger. Your sciatic nerve is actually made up of five roots that come together to form your left and right sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve runs all the way down your hips and buttocks and ends right below your knee on each side of your body.
When you have sciatica, you have nerve pain that results from irritation or injury to your sciatic nerve.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica occurs when your sciatic nerve becomes pinched or compressed and is usually caused by a medical condition such as a herniated disc. Other common sciatica causes include:
- Spinal stenosis or a narrowing of the spinal canal
- A traumatic injury to the spine or sciatic nerve
- Spondylolisthesis or when one vertebra slips out of line
Symptoms of Sciatica
Common sciatica symptoms include lower back pain, buttock pain, and leg pain. You can also experience weakness or numbness in your lower back or buttocks. Sometimes this numbness extends to your legs or feet.
Many people also experience pain that becomes worse with movement and the sensation of pins and needles in their legs and feet.
What Causes Sciatica to Flare Up?
The condition can reoccur even if you’ve had successful treatment for sciatica in the past. So, it’s important to understand what can trigger sciatica flare-ups so you can prevent them in the future. Some common causes of flare-ups include:
Not Exercising Daily
It’s essential to get regular exercise each day. Daily exercise keeps your core back and abdominal muscles strong and minimizes flare-ups.
If you have to spend a lot of the day sitting, it can cause muscle tension and nerve compression, leading to sciatic nerve pain.
So, make sure you get outside and go for a walk each day to loosen up your muscles and build strength.
Not getting enough exercise can also lead to poor posture because the core muscles in your back and abdomen are vital to maintaining good posture.
You’ll often get flare-ups by not practicing good posture when you sit down. Not keeping proper body alignment puts extra stress on your lower back which in turn causes problems with your sciatic nerve.
An easy way to remedy this is to position your buttocks to the back of your chair, which will help push your spine into the right place.
Not Using Good Body Mechanics
Lifting with your back can cause sciatica flare-ups. Even something as simple as bending over to pick up groceries can aggravate your sciatic nerve.
Therefore, it’s important to be conscious of your body position when you’re doing any kind of lifting. Try to bend at the waist and keep your feet apart when you’re bending over. You’ll also want to avoid sudden movements and twisting while holding heavy objects.
The additional weight of pregnancy can sometimes cause piriformis syndrome. When you have piriformis syndrome, the piriformis muscle in your buttocks spasms and causes pain. This can also irritate the sciatic nerve, leading to sciatica.
Regular chiropractor visits can reduce this pain, improve your posture, and help you feel better during your pregnancy.
Treatment for Sciatica Flare-Ups
You’ll first want to start with self-care treatments at home to reduce the pain and inflammation you’re feeling.
You can try hot and cold therapy by using ice packs and heat packs to reduce pain and swelling. You’ll need to apply ice packs for 20 minutes at a time a few times daily. You can switch to a hot pack or heating pad after the first few days.
Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and Tylenol can also help relieve your pain and inflammation.
Seeing a chiropractor for sciatica is a popular long-term treatment option you’ll need to consider.
Chiropractic therapy is an effective and natural treatment for sciatica and can relieve your pain without using medications.
Your chiropractor will first ask you about your pain levels and overall health history. Often you’ll have x-rays done so your chiropractor can understand more about your pain.
Chiropractic treatment involves controlled pressure on your joints and various stretching techniques. These adjustments help to restore normal motion to your hips, pelvis and lower back. As a result, it relieves the pressure on your sciatic nerve.
Chiropractic adjustments will also help improve your range of motion, making it easier to build your core muscle strength back up.
One of the best things about chiropractors is that they are also interested in your overall wellness. You’ll get nutrition and wellness education, as well as stretching exercises you can do at home to reduce sciatica flare-ups in the future.
See a Chiropractor for Your Sciatica Flare Up
Now that you know what causes sciatica to flare up, you’ll be better able to prevent it in the future.
If you’ve been having problems with sciatica, then it’s time to see a chiropractor in Mt Pleasant, SC, for treatment. You won’t need to look any further than Vital Family Chiropractic.
We offer pregnancy care, pediatric care, and the Torque Release Technique (TRT). TRT is a gentle and effective way to adjust your spine and ease your pain.
We have a warm and family-friendly office environment and will help you through your journey towards optimal health.
Make sure you contact us today to schedule an appointment!
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