“I’ve had issue with Sciatica off and on for years. What can I do to prevent flare-ups?” ~Jason T.

“I’ve had issue with Sciatica off and on for years.  What can I do to prevent flare-ups?” ~Jason T.

Good question, Jason.  It’s one I get frequently.  Sciatica is a set of symptoms resulting from the irritation of the longest nerve in the body, the Sciatic Nerve (see picture below).  The Sciatic Nerve extends from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down to the back of each leg to control the muscles of the lower leg and provides sensation to the thighs, legs, and soles of the feet.

Sciatica is most commonly seen in people between the ages of 30 and 50 and is usually the result of wear and tear on the structures of the lower spine and not necessarily the result of an injury. It is typically associated with pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve but symptoms can range widely depending on where the sciatic nerve is irritated. Mild tingling, dull aching, or even burning can be felt along the sciatic nerve. Usually, the pain is felt gradually and increases in intensity over time and can worsen with long periods of sitting, coughing, sneezing, bending, or sudden movements.

Typically, sciatica is treated conservatively with Chiropractic and rehabilitation.  Chiropractors work to restore normal spinal movement and function with the goal of decreasing pain and reducing inflammation to the Sciatic Nerve.  In other words, the Chiropractor adjusts the joints of the spine to remove the pressure that irritates the nerve.

While Sciatica may not always be preventable, there are some things a person can do to reduce the risk of irritating the Sciatic Nerve. In general the overall goal of prevention should be to improve the health of the spine. One of the best things one can do is maintaining a healthy weight through good nutrition. Avoid foods that may create inflammation in the joints such as refined sugars. Regular exercise is important as well. When you exercise, neurotransmitters called Endorphins (the body’s natural pain killers) are released. In preventing Sciatica, proper posture is key. It helps prevent irregular wear and tear on joint structures like those in the lower spine. Proper posture is especially important during times when lifting and moving objects. Last but not least, avoid prolonged inactivity or be rest. In other words, reduce your risk for Sciatica by moving well, eating well, and getting adjusted!  sciatic-nerve2