Here's How Your Weight Affects Your Sciatica

Your sciatic nerve, which starts in your lower back and branches out to travel down each of your legs, is the largest nerve in your body, which can be made abundantly clear when it’s compromised. If you’re suffering from sciatica, there are many factors that can lead to and exacerbate this condition, including being overweight.

At the Pain Management Group, under the experienced leadership of Dr. Ajit Pai, our team routinely helps patients in Mishawaka, Indiana, overcome musculoskeletal issues of all kinds. Not only do we provide the tools you need to find relief from your pain, including sciatica pain, we also work with you to mitigate some of the factors that can lead to the pain in the first place. 

Here’s a look at how your weight may be affecting your sciatica.

The road to sciatica

As we mentioned, your sciatic nerve begins in your lower back and travels down the backs of each of your legs. When this nerve is pinched or compressed, it can lead to pain, tingling, and numbness that can radiate down your legs, making the problem far from a local one.

When we use the term “sciatica,” what we’re really referring to is a symptom of a problem in your lower back, including:

Sciatica can develop any time the nerve is irritated, and the above conditions account for the majority of cases.

Your weight and your spine

Your spine is an incredibly complex system of vertebrae and discs that lie at the very foundation of your entire musculoskeletal structure. Your spine is arguably the hardest-working area of your body as it provides you with the support, mobility, and balance you need to function day in and day out. By adding to its already large burden with extra weight, you’re taxing a structure that wasn’t designed for the extra workload.

To underscore this point, let’s take a look at some revealing statistics. First, 80% of adults in the United States report experiencing low back pain at some point in their lives. Coincidentally, 1 in 3 Americans is considered overweight and another 1 in 3 is obese.

While we’re not saying the link is a direct one, the fact is that being overweight can have a widespread impact on your musculoskeletal health and exacerbate conditions like arthritis and degenerative disc disease.

Making the link to sciatica

As we’ve discovered, sciatica is the pain that stems from a compression in your large sciatic nerve. If your nerve is already pinched, the pain can be worse if you’re carrying extra pounds that add to the pressure.

Extra weight can also accelerate progressive conditions like degenerative disc disease, which can lead to sciatica pain as your discs herniate or bulge.

The bottom line is that by shedding your extra pounds, you can take the added pressure off your spine allowing it to function more freely. And if you can avoid an episode of sciatica in the process, all the better.

If you’d like to learn more about how to prevent or treat sciatica, please give us a call at 574-208-9593.

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