Can sciatica be prevented?

Some sources of sciatica may not be preventable, such as degenerative disk disease, sciatica due to pregnancy or accidental falls. Although it might not be possible to prevent all cases of sciatica, taking the following steps can help protect your back and reduce your risk:

  • Maintain good posture: Following good posture techniques while you’re sitting, standing, lifting objects and sleeping helps relieve pressure on your lower back. Pain can be an early warning sign that you are not properly aligned. If you start to feel sore or stiff, adjust your posture.
  • Don’t smoke: Nicotine reduces the blood supply to bones. It weakens the spine and the vertebral disks, which puts more stress on the spine and disks and causes back and spine problems.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Extra weight and a poor diet are associated with inflammation and pain throughout your body. To lose weight or learn healthier eating habits, look into the Mediterranean diet. The closer you are to your ideal body weight the less strain you put on your spine.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise includes stretching to keep your joints flexible and exercises to strengthen your core – the muscles of your lower back and abdomen. These muscles work to support your spine. Also, do not sit for long periods of time.
  • Choose physical activities least likely to hurt your back: Consider low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, yoga or tai chi.
  • Keep yourself safe from falls: Wear shoes that fit and keep stairs and walkways free of clutter to reduce your chance of a fall. Make sure rooms are well-lighted and there are grab bars in bathrooms and rails on stairways.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/25/2020.

References

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Sciatica. Accessed 3/12/2020.
  • Merck Manual Professional Version. Sciatica. Accessed 3/12/2020.
  • National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Back Pain. Accessed 3/12/2020.
  • Expert knowledge and experience of healthcare providers at Cleveland Clinic.
  • Woods RP, Seamon J. Chapter 21. Arthritis & Back Pain. In: Stone C, Humphries RL. eds. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment Emergency Medicine, 7e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2011.
  • InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Slipped disk: Overview. 2012 Aug 14 [Updated 2017 Jun 1]. Accessed 3/12/2020.

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