Excess weight puts additional pressure and force on the spine, increasing the risk of injuries and nerve pain like sciatica. The sciatic nerve runs from the lumbar spine (low back) down the legs on both sides of the body. Spine problems and nerve pain are usually interconnected, so if you have a herniated disc or a bone spur that hits your sciatic nerve, the result is sciatic pain. Dr. Long and the team at Empower Medical Center offer solutions to manage sciatic pain and help you achieve an active and healthy lifestyle.
The cycle of back pain and excess weight
Obesity and being overweight have been linked to a number of common health problems and can create a ripple effect throughout your entire body, often resulting in a symptom like back and nerve pain. Extra weight and pressure on the lower back can increase the risk of disc herniation, and a slipped disc can, in turn, compress the sciatic nerve and trigger pain, weakness, and tingling in the affected leg.
Extra weight puts pressure on your nerves and spine
A strong and healthy spine supports your entire body and makes it possible for your muscles and other connective tissue to perform as they’re supposed to, so that you can move and be active without pain or stiffness. Being overweight, however, can affect the integrity of your spine.
While not every person carrying extra weight develops back pain or sciatica, extra pounds make your spine and joints work harder, making them susceptible to strain and injuries. According to the Arthritis Foundation, each pound of additional weight exerts four pounds of added force and pressure on the joints.
Extra weight hinders physical activity
Exercising or even getting up from the couch can seem unthinkable when you’re in pain. But staying physically fit and active is an important factor in maintaining a healthy spine and managing your risk of pain and injuries. A sedentary lifestyle or prolonged periods of sitting can be a risk factor for sciatica.
Additionally, because excess weight puts added pressure on your spine and joints, it also increases your risk of injury and ability to keep up a regular exercise routine, creating an ongoing cycle of injuries and pain. Think of your back and spine in terms of the immune system — when your immune system is down, it has a harder time protecting you from infections and illnesses.
To learn more about how weight and lifestyle factors can contribute to sciatica and back pain and to discuss your treatment options, call us today or request an appointment online.