Back pain is a normal part of life for most people. A little soreness while taking off your socks might not mean anything more than a long day of work. But sometimes back pain is more than just a dull soreness that pops up every so often. There are some safety tips for truck drivers that can help prevent extreme back pain.
Sitting is an unavoidable part of driving a truck. In fact, it’s the only way you can do it. This is why many truck drivers suffer from pain shooting through their lower back and into one of their legs. However, we often don’t know exactly what causes this pain.
This pain is often sciatica. While one of the main causes of sciatica (sitting) is inherent to the job, there are other measures that can be taken to avoid it. But before we get into that, let’s look into what sciatica actually is and how to figure out if you have it.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a shooting pain that originates in the back and goes down a leg. It is generally caused by compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back. These nerves run from the lower back and down each leg. The compression can come from a few different sources:
- Bone spur
- Herniated disk
- Narrowing of the spine
- Muscle spasm
Sciatica is characterized by pain that runs along this nerve; from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks, and down the leg. Since the two nerves run down opposite sides of the body, pain is usually felt in only one side. Paying attention to safety tips for truck drivers will help avoid this pain.
Recognize The Symptoms
The pain from sciatica can be debilitating. It can show itself in a few different ways:
- Pain In One Leg
- Pain In Lower Back
- Pain Is Worse When Sitting
- Shooting Pain When Standing Up
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How Do You Prevent It?
Sciatica hurts. It’s best to try to avoid it altogether. Our nerves are difficult to see and treat. But there are some measures that can be taken to lessen your chances of feeling the shooting pain of sciatica.
Behavioral changes and safety tips for truck drivers can be made to make yourself less susceptible to sciatica. Smoking tobacco has been shown to cause disc degeneration. This degeneration can lead to sciatica. Avoiding or quitting smoking is recommended for many reasons, and diminishing your chances of suffering from sciatica is one of them. Also, obesity has been shown to increase chances of sciatica. Keeping this in check will give you the best chance of remaining healthy.
Paying attention to the way you move your body can help as well. Always use proper lifting techniques. Keep your back straight, lift with your legs, and avoid twisting your body while lifting. Likewise, keep good posture while sitting. This can be difficult while driving, but putting a towel between your lower back and the seat can help keep your spine in the proper alignment.
All of these things are related to reducing the pressure on your lower back. With that in mind, exercising your core helps support the spine. Strengthening your back and abdomen will essentially prop up your body.
Unfortunately, there are some sources that are not preventable:
- Accidental falls
- Degenerative disc disease
How Do You Treat It?
Sciatica usually goes away on its own. Patience can be a difficult thing to muster when it hurts to move one of your legs, though. At this point you can treat the pain and hope for the best. Painkillers can be used to deal with painful flare-ups. Reduce the swelling around the sciatic nerve with an ice pack. Heat packs can be applied if you are experiencing muscle spasms or tension.
This is usually all you will need to do. As previously stated, sciatica usually goes away on its own. More treatments are available if the pain becomes chronic. Steroid injections straight into the spine are available which helps lessen the pain on a larger time frame than over-the-counter painkillers. Chiropractors have also been utilized to treat sciatica. Physical therapy can also be used to lessen symptoms.
It’s rare for sciatic nerve pain to persist after these treatments. However, surgeries are available if it does.
Knowing what tendencies and activities cause sciatica is the first step toward avoiding it. Sciatica often seems to pop up out of nowhere, and in that case, all we can do is try to mitigate the symptoms. But setting ourselves up for success by following these safety tips for truck drivers can avoid that situation altogether.
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