You may be aware that carrying excess body weight increases your risk of many chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea. But did you know that being overweight also increases your risk of sciatica?
At Premier Chiropractic, we focus on your overall health, not just your pain, and we want you to know how your weight affects your sciatica pain — and what you can do about.
The pain of sciatica
According to Harvard Health Publishing, nearly 40% of people will develop sciatica pain at some point in their lives and no single episode of the pain condition is like another. Some people may only feel an annoying dull ache, while others may experience an electric shock sensation every time they move their leg. Typically the discomfort only affects one side of the body.
The pain occurs when the root of your sciatic nerve gets pinched or irritated. This nerve, which is as thick as your little finger, runs from the lower part of your back, through your buttocks and into your legs on both sides of your body, and it supports sensory and motor function.
A herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica pain, which occurs when the soft cushion in between your vertebrae ruptures or slips, causing it to press on the nerve. While a herniated disc can occur after an injury, it most often develops due to degeneration that occurs to the disc over time. Spinal stenosis (narrowing of your spinal canal) and osteoarthritis are also potential causes of sciatica pain.
The sciatica and weight connection
Obesity is considered one of the most prominent risk factors associated with the development of sciatica, along with aging, occupation, and diabetes. But your weight not only increases your risk of developing the pain condition, but may also increase your need for more involved medical care.
According to an April 2014 meta-analysis study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, being overweight or obese not only increases your risk of developing sciatica pain, but may also make it more likely that you’ll need back surgery.
Yes, your job may potentially be a contributing factor to the development of sciatica pain, especially if you need to lift heavy items or you’re exposed to heavy vibrations (for instance, if you drive a truck or operate heavy machinery).
However, according to an April 2019 study published in Scientific Reports, you may be more at risk of hospitalization for the management of your occupation-related sciatica if you’re obese. The researchers of this study also found that overweight and obese individuals exposed to heavy vibrations had a higher risk of developing sciatica than normal weight people exposed to the same body stress.
So, how does weight lead to sciatica pain? Carrying excess body weight stresses all your joints, including the joints that make up your spine. The additional stress may increase the rate of the disc and spinal degeneration that causes the sciatic nerve irritation.
Taking control of your pain and weight
At Premier Chiropractic, we take a conservative approach to help you get relief from your sciatica pain. To relieve pressure on the nerve, we provide chiropractic care and spinal decompression. We also incorporate a rehabilitation program to help strengthen your back and stomach muscles, which relieves some of the stress on your spine.
We also provide nutritional coaching to help you make healthier food choices so you can lose the excess weight and keep it off. We work one on one with you to develop a personalized program that fits your tastes, weight-loss goals, and health needs.
For a comprehensive plan to help you get relief from your sciatica pain, call Premier Chiropractic’s office in Pearland, Texas, or use the online booking button to schedule an appointment today.