It's no secret carrying extra pounds can cause a variety of health problems, from heart issues to some types of cancer. It can also contribute to back pain, including sciatica.
At Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center, Dr. Jocelyn Idema and our top-notch staff provide cutting-edge treatments for back and neck issues at multiple locations in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and now at our extension office in South Florida.
To treat sciatica, we create a customized treatment plan that considers factors such as age, occupation, and whether weight could play a role in your discomfort.
Back pain is one of the most common medical issues people face. It can happen suddenly, from an accident or lifting something heavy, or develop over time due to degeneration. As many as 10%-40% of people may experience the nerve pain known as sciatica.
Sciatica results when pain moves along the sciatic nerve, beginning in the lower back and coursing through the hip, buttock, and down the back of the leg. Pain can range from mild to sharp and cause a sensation like burning or electric shock. Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the leg or foot may also occur.
Typically, sciatica strikes one side of the body.
Sciatica usually results from the nerve getting pinched or pressured from a herniated disc or bone spur. Weight can play a role in that.
Excess pounds around the middle can cause the spine’s natural curve to change as the pelvis and lower back tilt forward. That, in turn, can result in pinched nerves, spinal compression, and disc degeneration.
Disc compression can also occur due to extra pressure on the joints from too much weight. That could mean thinning or bulging discs and pinched nerves.
We diagnose sciatica with a physical exam that may include testing muscle strength and reflexes. If pain is severe or not improving, we may order additional tests, such as X-rays, MRI, CT scan, or electromyography (EMG).
Milder sciatica cases often respond to treatment with ice for the first few days. After that, heat or a combination of heat and ice can help. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can decrease pain, swelling, and inflammation.
If these don’t provide relief, prescription medications, physical therapy, acupuncture, or spinal injections could be considered. Minimally invasive surgery may be the best option in severe cases.
Losing weight is also an important step. It can improve posture and help prevent disc compression. In addition to making healthy food choices and getting physical exercise, you can aid your bone health by consuming enough calcium and vitamin D.
If you're suffering from back pain, including sciatica, we can help. Call our office in Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks, or Washington or request your appointment online today.