How Your Weight Affects Your Sciatica Pain

Sciatica is a painful condition that’s caused by a slipped spinal disc in about 85% of cases. Your discs are jelly doughnut-like spheres that separate your vertebrae and act as shock absorbers so they don’t grind against one another when you walk, run, or jump.  If a spinal disc ruptures or slips out of place in your lower back, it can press against your sciatic nerve. 

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. It starts at the base of your spine and runs from your lower back and branches down both legs. That’s why, when you have sciatica, you might feel pain from your lower back all the way down one of your legs or even into your feet. Sciatica often feels like shooting, stabbing pain that travels down your thigh.

If you’ve had sciatica, you probably don’t look forward to triggering that intense pain, tingling, or numbness again. Although most sciatica resolves on its own with just painkillers, when you’re in the midst of a sciatica attack you may find it difficult or impossible to perform daily tasks.

At Cure Pain, with offices in Torrance and El Segundo, California, one of our top recommendations to prevent sciatica is to attain a healthy weight. Our founder, David Wu, MD, explains why.

Extra weight puts pressure on your spine

When you’re overweight or obese, the extra weight compresses your spinal column, which makes it more likely that you’ll rupture or slip a disc. Carrying excess pounds also increases the risk of your vertebrae rubbing against one another, eventually forming bone spurs that can irritate your sciatic nerve.

Being obese limits your mobility

One of the best ways to prevent sciatica is to develop an engaging, varied exercise regimen that builds strength and flexibility throughout your body, especially your core. Your spine needs strong, healthy muscles, ligaments, and tendons to keep it upright and in a healthy position. 

When you lose weight, it’s easier to do the kinds of exercises you need to do to lose weight. To avoid sciatica and get your body into the best shape possible, add low-impact activities such as:

If you’re having trouble losing weight, talk to Dr. Wu. He helps you add activities that you enjoy gradually, to build up your strength and avoid stressing your sciatic nerve. He also gives you advice on how to improve your eating habits to build strength while shedding pounds.

Good foods are good for your discs, too

If you lose weight the healthy way — by cutting out processed foods and sugar and adding lots of fresh vegetables and fruit — your cells will thank you. All aspects of your body function better when your cells get the nutrients they need. That includes the cells in your spinal discs and muscles.

Feeding your body with good nutrition also helps you feel full, curbs cravings, and improves your overall health. If you’ve had trouble with yo-yo dieting and staying at a healthy weight, talk to Dr. Wu. He custom-designs a healthy eating plan for you or refers you to a medically supervised weight-loss program.

Take control of your sciatica by taking control of your weight today. If you’re suffering from sciatica pain, give us a call for treatment or use our online booking form to set up a consultation.

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