Sciatica is a painful condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed. This causes pain to flare along the path of the nerve, which runs from the lower back through the legs. Most people only experience sciatic pain in a single leg, rather than both. There are several factors that can lead to the compression. One thing people want to know is how to ease sciatica pain.
To ease sciatica pain, it’s important to understand what is happening with the condition. The nerve may be compressed because of a bone spur, spinal narrowing, or herniated disc. When the nerve is compressed, it causes the area to become inflamed by the immune system. There will also be flares of sharp pain. Some people experience a degree of numbness in the leg due to the nerve compression.
Sciatica can lead to severe nerve pain. However, the majority of cases will resolve without needing a doctor’s treatment. The condition tends to last for a few weeks at a time. In rare cases, surgery may be recommended to help with the condition. This tends to be the case when people have had long-lasting episodes that interfere with their bladder or bowel movements.
The pain from the condition might radiate from the lower back to the back of the leg. It is possible for discomfort to occur at any point on the nerve. Shooting pain through the lower back, buttock, and thigh is the most common.
The pain might also feel different for different people. Some of the ways it can manifest include:
- A mild aching in the leg
- A sharp burning or stabbing sensation
- Severe, intolerable pain
- An electric shock or sharp jolt
If you sit for long periods of time, that might cause your symptoms to worsen. It helps to get up and stretch periodically if you work a desk job. It also helps to get out and walk around.
The Best Ways to Ease Sciatica Pain
In addition to avoiding sitting for long periods of time, there are several ways to ease sciatica pain. You can do non-invasive stretches and treatments from your home without needing to talk to your doctor.
One of the biggest things to know is that exercise is not just okay, it’s ideal. Most people have an instinct to stay still when they’re in pain. But sciatica isn’t like a muscle injury. Resting too much won’t help the nerve heal.
That said, you should make sure that any exercise you do is gentle. If the exercise is causing you pain or stressing your body, it won’t be helpful. For those who don’t often exercise, consider just taking a walk around the block a few times a week.
The other best way to ease pain is by doing stretches. There are several stretches that can help reduce sciatica symptoms. Like with exercise, it’s important that the stretches are gentle enough to avoid injuring you.
When you stretch, you improve the flexibility of your spine. You also gain a better range of motion and slowly build the strength of your muscles. Since stretches tend to be simple, you can even do them while casually watching television.
At times when the pain does flare, one of the most immediate solutions is to use hot and cold therapy. Combining a heating pad and ice pack gives you the best of both of these treatments. Ice is helpful for reducing the presence of inflammation. Plus, it numbs the area. Meanwhile, heat helps to open the blood vessels so that circulation is improved.
It’s common for sciatica patients to experience spasms and cramps in the leg. Hot and cold therapy is also helpful for this. Start with ice, setting an ice pack on your most painful places for at least ten minutes. Then apply ten to fifteen minutes of heat.
Always wrap the ice packs and heating pads in a cloth or towel to prevent your skin from being burned. Don’t sleep while using these types of therapies.
You can also take a moment to evaluate your posture. Are you at the office? Or are you leaning back on your couch? No matter where you are, your posture matters. The longer you sit in one spot, the higher the chances are of sciatica pain spiking. Try to change your sitting position every 20 minutes or so.
To get started with sciatica treatment and learn about your options today, you can call us at 205-637-1363.