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How Your Weight Affects Your Sciatic Nerve Pain

If you’re suffering from back pain, you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide. Problems with the sciatic nerve are a common source of such pain, as well as effects that radiate anywhere along the path of the nerve. Pain arising from sciatic nerve irritation is called sciatica.

As well as pain in the hip and buttock area, usually only on one side, sciatica may also cause tingling, numbness, and pain along the outside of your thigh and even lower into your calf and foot. Typically, sciatica passes with time, rest, and conservative treatment, but in rare cases, surgery may be needed to resolve pain and other issues associated with sciatic nerve problems.

Frequent occurrence

For some people, sciatica can temporarily cease, but then reoccur weeks or months later. This could be the result of medical conditions such as arthritis that cause a narrowing of nerve pathways called spinal stenosis, but sciatica frequently results from musculoskeletal strain related to excess body weight. Since obesity affects about 40% of adult Americans, sciatica could be a common side effect.

Importance of posture

The biomechanics of your body are complex and quite remarkable, enabling a wide range of movement, speed, and strength. However, much depends on maintaining balance between bones, joints, muscles, and other soft tissue. 

Many people know that lifting with your legs and not with your back is important when carrying loads, and this is a principle-based on sharing the load through your body’s weight-bearing systems.

When you carry extra weight, there’s already an additional load on your body that makes it easier to exceed balances. This results not only in strains or sprains, it also makes maintaining balanced posture more difficult. You can develop sciatica simply by sitting or standing incorrectly, due to the forces added by extra pounds.

Your center of gravity

If you’re standing straight with good posture, your center of gravity rests at about the top of your pelvis in the middle of your body. It’s an imaginary point, but a critical one, since there must always be a balance around it. Too much weight in front or behind the center of gravity means that you’ll have to take action to prevent falling.

If you’re carrying extra pounds on your belly, for example, this pulls your center of gravity forward. Your spine and its support tissue must work harder to maintain balance against this cantilevered load. Since the weight is still close to the center of gravity, you may not notice these effects until time or strain adds to the burden on your spine.

Think about holding a weight close to your body, and then holding the same weight at arm’s length. This demonstrates how extra weight can strain your back by moving loads out of balance. Frequently, the sciatic nerve becomes irritated by the extra forces on your spine.

Weight loss may be an important part of your sciatica management plan. Dr. James Nassiri at Westside Pain Specialists can help you develop a plan that includes treatments for pain to get you through a sciatica episode, as well as monitoring for more serious back complications.

Contact the most convenient office to meet with Dr. Nassiri and his team for a personal consultation. There’s no need to live with sciatica. Call the Beverly Hills office at 323-538-3802 or the Rancho Cucamonga location at 909-460-8300 today to put nerve pain in your past. You can also send the team a message here on the website at any time.

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