Sciatica is a condition that causes pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the lower back, buttocks, and legs. It occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower spine to the feet, is compressed or irritated by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, or other factors.
Sciatica can be debilitating and interfere with your daily activities. Fortunately, there are some ways to ease the pain and improve your quality of life. This article provides some tips and exercises for sciatica relief.
Apply Heat or Ice
Heat or ice can reduce inflammation and soothe the nerve. You can use a heating pad, a hot water bottle, a warm bath, or a microwaveable heat pack. Alternatively, you can use an ice pack, a bag of frozen peas, or a cold compress. Apply heat or ice several times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Be careful not to burn or freeze your skin.
Take Over-the-Counter Painkillers
Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen can relieve mild to moderate sciatica pain. However, they may have side effects from long-term use, such as stomach upset, bleeding, liver damage, and kidney problems. Therefore, you should follow the dosage instructions carefully and consult with your doctor before taking them if you have any medical conditions or allergies.Stretch Your Lower Back and Hamstrings
Stretching your lower back and hamstrings can loosen up the muscles and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve, especially during the last stages of sciatica. Here are some simple stretches you can do:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly bring one knee to your chest and hold it with both hands. Gently pull it toward your opposite shoulder until you feel a stretch in your lower back and buttock. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg. Do this 2 to 3 times per side.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Bend one knee and place your foot on the outside of your opposite knee. Twist your upper body toward the bent knee and place your elbow on the outside of it. Push gently against your knee until you feel a stretch in your lower back and hip. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat with the other side. Do this 2 to 3 times per side.
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend forward from your hips and try to touch your toes with your fingers. Keep your knees slightly bent and your back straight. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and lower back. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat 2 to 3 times.
Do Low-Impact Exercises
Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, and yoga can strengthen your core muscles, improve your posture, increase blood circulation, and reduce stress. These benefits can prevent or reduce sciatica pain. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, but avoid activities that aggravate your pain, such as running, jumping, or lifting heavy objects.
Focus on Correct Posture and Ergonomics
Poor posture and improper ergonomics can exacerbate sciatic nerve pain. Making simple adjustments, such as sitting with proper lumbar support, using an ergonomic chair, and maintaining a neutral spine position while standing, can alleviate pressure on the nerve and promote a healthier back. Additionally, using a supportive mattress and ergonomic pillow while sleeping can contribute to better spinal alignment and reduce discomfort.
Consider Alternative Therapies
Several alternative therapies can complement conventional treatments and offer relief from sciatic nerve pain. These include acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage therapy. These practices focus on targeting the root cause of the pain, increasing circulation, and reducing muscle tension. However, it is crucial to consult with a qualified practitioner and ensure he or she has experience in treating sciatica.
See a Doctor if Necessary
If your sciatic nerve pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, loss of bladder or bowel control, weakness in the legs, or numbness in the groin area, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. These could be signs of a serious condition such as cauda equina syndrome, which requires immediate medical attention. Your doctor may prescribe stronger painkillers, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, or surgery, depending on the cause and severity of your sciatica.
Patients who have had discectomies for herniated discs may experience sciatica if their discs reherniate, which often occurs if there is a large hole in the outer ring of the disc after surgery. Fortunately, there is a new treatment shown to reduce the risk of reherniation by closing the hole in the disc after a discectomy. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. Barricaid was proven 95 percent effective in a study of over 500 patients, meaning 95 percent of patients did not experience a reoperation due to reherniation in the two-year study time frame.If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.
For full benefit/risk information, please visit: https://www.barricaid.com/instructions.