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Aiming to Lose Weight This Year? Here's How It Can Improve Your Chronic Sciatica

You know you need to lose weight. Carrying around extra pounds is uncomfortable and unhealthy. 

What you may not know is that losing weight could be the best treatment for your sciatica.

Dr. John Monroe and our Healthy Life Family Medicine team in Goodyear, Arizona, understand the link between your body weight and sciatica, and we’re here to help you understand it, too. 

What is sciatica?

Although some mistakenly think of sciatica as a medical condition, it’s actually a symptom of a medical condition. 

Technically, sciatica is the pain that radiates along the path of your sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. It usually affects only one side of your body. 

Several medical conditions can cause sciatica, including but not limited to a herniated disk, a bone spur on your spine, or spinal narrowing (spinal stenosis). These problems involve inflammation and structural changes in your spine that compress part of your sciatic nerve.

Sciatic symptoms vary from person to person. You may experience lower back pain, hip pain, burning or tingling down the leg, weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot. Many people with sciatica describe a sharp pain that makes it tough to stand up or walk.

Sound familiar? Dr. Monroe can get to the underlying cause behind your sciatica and start you on a healing treatment, but before he does, let’s look at one of the most common contributing factors to sciatica that many overlook — excess weight.

The connection between weight and sciatica

Being overweight wreaks havoc on your health. It puts you at high risk for all kinds of health problems, not the least of which are hypertension and diabetes

However, it can also affect your spine and lead to sciatica. Here’s how.

First, carrying extra weight increases stress on your spine, which can lead to spinal changes that trigger sciatica. 

Second, people who are overweight tend to be less active, leading to weaker muscles in the back and abdomen. This lack of muscle support can also contribute to back problems like sciatica.

How losing weight can relieve sciatica

First and foremost, weight loss relieves the pressure on your nerves, which in turn stops the pain.

Second, weight loss typically leads to reduced inflammation, which also alleviates sciatica.

Third, losing weight makes physical activity more comfortable, generating a positive spiral of benefits: Exercise promotes weight loss, and weight loss promotes physical activity.

Finally, the more you exercise, the more mobile and flexible you become, which reduces your risk of injury and, therefore, sciatica.

Beyond weight loss: treatments for sciatica

While we’ve shown that weight loss can relieve sciatica symptoms, it’s just one part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Dr. Monroe can help you even further through various treatments, such as:

Don’t suffer from sciatica. Dr. Monroe can diagnose the root cause, help you lose weight if necessary, and find the right treatment to relieve your symptoms. Call or book an appointment online today with Healthy Life Family Medicine.

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