Sciatica is a common issue among older adults. By definition, sciatica is pain affecting the back, hip, or outer side of the leg which is caused by the compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back. Oftentimes it’s due to the degeneration of an intervertebral disk. The pain radiates along the length of the sciatic nerve, from the lower back through the hips and glutes, and down the legs. It’s usually reserved to one side of the body, sometimes accompanied by inflammation and numbness in the affected leg.
Sciatica can be caused from herniated disks, a bone spur on the spine, or spinal stenosis which is the narrowing of the spine which compresses part of the nerve. The pain associated with sciatica tends to vary from person to person. Sometimes movement makes the pain worse, for other people there is numbness or weakness in the legs and feet, radiating from the lower back and down the leg. These are common complaints, along with the sensation of pins and needles, and tingling in the toes and feet.
However, the most common symptom of sciatica is excruciating pain from the lower back to the glutes, or around the hip and down the back of the leg into the hamstring region. To help ease any discomfort associated with sciatica, here are some stretches that can help bring relief, particularly to any back pain.
Risk Factors of Sciatica
While sciatica is common among older adults, there are some other risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of developing it. The main risk factors are:
- Changes in the spine that occur as a result of age.
- Excessive body weight that puts stress on the spine.
- A sedentary lifestyle (i.e. sitting for long periods of time).
- Diabetes, as there is a higher risk of nerve damage.