Sciatica can make daily tasks fee like torture. Described as the pain that radiates down your sciatic nerve which connects the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg is a common challenge for many people. It can be a common symptom that comes after a herniated disk, bone spur, or narrowing of the spine. Such pain can also be caused by piriformis syndrome (spasms and irritation of the sciatic nerve) and also pregnancy. Visit your primary care doctor to determine the source of your sciatica and the pursue one of the given methods to relieve pain.
Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for most patients with sciatica. Given restrictions of pregnant women, it can be a great alternative to pharmacologic treatment. Find a licensed physical therapist to coach you through exercises that will help you combat your pain.
Acupuncture is known to relieve pain through the process of reducing inflammation and increasing endorphins. It’s a great option that has a complement to other sciatica management strategies, notes Dr. Jiang – Ti Kong, MD. Acupuncture is very safe and entails minimal side effects and risks. Seek a practitioner with proper credentials which can be marked with by DABMA, a certificate given by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture.
Heat or cold
If your sciatica is a result of a muscle spasm, try applying something hot or cold to the affected area. Use ice packs, or heating pads for about 15 to 20 minutes, which gives your skin a chance to recover, especially if you choose the gold method. Farah Hameed, MD, a sports and spine specialist and the medical director of Women’s Health Rehabilitation at Columbia University in New York City notes the benefits of using heat or cold. She adds that ‘’The more local the pain is, the more beneficial the application of heat or cold will be.’’
A lumbar pillow
Although most of us may spend the entire day at the office sitting on a pillow, it’s important to understand that prolonged sitting has been associated with an increased risk of developing sciatica. It’ s important to maintain good posture if we must be seated. Better posture may be supported by placing a pillow against your lower back to support natural curves of the spine, and make it more difficult to slouch or hunch forward. Dr. Hameed recommends the McKenzie Lumbar Roll (16 dollars from Amazon), to help sit a little more upright. She also suggests its use while at home, or in the car.
A bathroom break
Dr. Hameed also states that “As you sit for too long, sciatic pain can get worse and your disks can get pressurized, and movement, in general, can really help with that. At least once an hour, get up and walk around for five minutes; get a glass of water, go to the bathroom, whatever.”
Sit with your back leaned at the desk, and quickly stretch. Then, stand up and using your both hands to support the lower back muscles, cup your lower back and lean backward as much as you can. Dr. Hammed adds “You’re putting your spine into the opposite position of when you’re sitting”.
A maternity supports belt
Hilda Hutcherson, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City advises future mothers:”my best advice is wearing a pregnancy belt that helps lift the uterus.”
She also suggests that this pain gets reduced after giving birth. For sitting, it is better to use basic belly bands, while it more comfortable to use maternity belts which reduce the lower back pressure if walking or standing.
In this way, you will also prevent the back and core from developing needed muscle mass.
A sit-to-stand desk
Dr. Hameed purposes “For patients who experience pain because they’re sitting for long periods of time, I sometimes recommend a sit/stand desk,” which will get them up more,”.
You might gain great relief if you can find some adjustable-height workstation as you will be able to sit for instance, for half an hour, and then stand for the same amount of time.
It is of vital importance to be active and have a moderate exercise procedure in order to recover from the sciatica attack. Regular workout, as well as exercises that target the core, will condition and strengthen your spinal and back muscles while resting in bed will aggravate the pain.
Dr. Hameed states that it is best to engage in some 30- minute moderate-intensity exercise, at least, five times weekly, such as gardening, swimming or walking.
Jiang-Ti Kong, MD, an anesthesiologist, and pain specialist at Stanford Health Care in California, states that”Acupuncture is known to reduce pain by increasing endorphins (which help a person become more resistant to pain) and reducing the level of inflammation. As an adjunct to physical therapy or even injections, it can make those therapies much more effective.
It’s also very safe, with minimal side effects and risks.” Therefore, you should find your own practitioner order to use the beneficial effects of acupuncture. Yet, always note that he should contain the label DABMA, which indicates that he has been certified by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture).
A lacrosse ball
In order to alleviate pain linked to certain muscle (for instance in the case of piriformis syndrome), you can use a tool like the lacrosse ball, which will press against the flesh of the particular area that feels uncomfortable. You should place the ball on the ground, and lie on its top. Then, roll over it in order to alleviate the pain in the affected area. If it is too hard, you can also try doing this using a tennis ball.
A common ingredient in topical traditional remedies, this bushy, flowering shrub has been used to treat sprains, pulled muscles and ligaments, bruising, arthritis, as well as other issues.
A research done in 2012 found that comfrey can effectively alleviate back pain. Yet, note that its extracts may consist of alkaloids and anti-inflammatories which can accumulate with time and lead to liver damage. Hence, always consult your doctor for a second opinion on its use.
Yoga exercises can provide significant help in the case of sciatic pain. Dr. Hameed suggests two of them, the classic plank, as it will reduce the pressure on the disks which pinch the lower back nerves, and the figure four (or thread the needle) is great after long periods of sitting, and stretch will relax the tension caused by the piriformis muscle.
You should lie on the back, cross your right ankle over your left thigh, and put the hands together behind the left hamstring and pull toward your abdominal area for 10 to 15 seconds.Then do the same procedure on the other side as well.