Sciatica is a common term these days. It affects almost 40% of people in the United States and the number is going up as we speak. Usually, people in their 40s and 50s are affected by this condition, but it can happen in younger and older individuals. There are many causes for sciatica but can stress cause sciatica? The answer awaits you below.
The link between stress and sciatica
One is a mental issue while the other is physical. At first sight, these two shouldn’t be connected. But, they are. The simplest answer is yes, stress can cause sciatica. However, a more complicated answer is mandatory here. As a matter of fact, stress can cause sciatica and can also prolong the recovery time and make symptoms even worse.
Can stress cause sciatica?
The answer is yes. Stress can cause sciatica due to oxygen deprivation to the sciatic nerve and will make recovery time longer and more painful. The only way you can reduce the risk from both issues is to fight stress and find a way that works for you the best.
There were several studies that proved the link between stress and sciatica. When we are stressed, our brain will deprive nerves in the lower back, directly affecting the sciatic nerve. As aforementioned, this is the longest and the largest nerve so it needs the most oxygen. When deprived, it will show sciatica symptoms. These include weakness, pain in the lower back or leg, and even some strange electrical sensations.
One-time stress or rare stressful situation won’t affect sciatica significantly. Sadly, this is perfectly normal and we can avoid it. Long periods of stress or regular stress at a workplace are far more severe. These issues can and will cause sciatica at some point. You may want to know that around 10% of people will experience sciatica at some point. For most of them, stress may be the primary trigger.
Stress can make sciatica recovery time much longer
Yes, if you suffer from sciatica and you are under stress, the recovery time will be much longer. Stress wasn’t considered a big deal until recently. Thanks to many scientists, we know now that stress has a negative effect on our body and mind. When we are stressed, we have a bad opinion of ourselves. Our body also releases toxins and specific hormones into the bloodstream that all have consequences.
The biggest and the main issue here is cortisol. It is known as a stress hormone so you can get a better idea about the importance. This hormone is released when we are stressed. It is produced by adrenal glands and it was essential in the past. When our ancestors saw a trigger, they would get plenty of cortisol which would trigger the flight or fight system.
Today, we actually do not need cortisol. Sadly, it is still produced. When the cortisol levels are too high, which is a direct consequence of stress, your body will need more time to heal itself. After all, the goal is to solve a problem or escape from a specific situation and your body knows that.
Inflamation and stress
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is under inflammation. Cortisol will make this inflammation last much longer and also make symptoms worse. As you can see, stress directly affects sciatica and makes it more annoying and problematic than it actually is. The flare-ups will last longer and the intensity will be increased. At the end of a day, people under a lot of stress will need weeks instead of days to recover from the simplest sciatica disorder.
The reason for stress is irrelevant. All types of stress caused by literally anything will have the same effect on sciatica and will make it worse. On the other hand, we can see that stress doesn’t affect all people in the same way. Some are more resilient to stress so their cortisol levels will stay normal or slightly elevated. These people will experience less problematic issues with sciatica. Just keep in mind that once cortisol level increases, you will be in severe danger.
How to avoid stress for sciatica patients
In order to protect yourself from sciatica, you should eliminate stress from your life. This is easier to say than to do but it is manageable. There are a few methods you can use and all of them are effective. Each person is different so you will need to find one or two that work for you the best.
Meditation has been used all across the world for centuries. It is very effective in fighting stress and many people use it specifically for this reason. You will need to find your place, close your eyes and use proper breathing techniques. Proper meditation is complicated so you will need time to get used to it.
Yoga is more than just a powerful technique for eliminating stress. It is complicated and it will require a lot of time. But, it is fun and beneficial as well. It affects your brain and makes you a happier person. It affects your body as well and makes it more flexible stronger and more durable. All of these advantages are essential for people with sciatica so you can see the importance of yoga. Some will even recommend yoga as the sciatica treatment and it works well.
Any form of exercise is essential for fighting stress. Exercising will release hormones and substances that help us feel better and stronger. You will also get a better opinion about yourself followed by better self-esteem. What this means is that you will be more resilient to stress that will happen in the future. It is irrelevant which type of exercising you will do. Simple running can be very effective. Going to the gym is slightly better.
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If nothing from the above works for you, find a hobby or action that will help you fight stress and protect yourself from future stress. It is very easy to do that and all you need is time.
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