Sciatica pain can be debilitating and frustrating. If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from this condition, you know how important it is to find relief as soon as possible. This blog post will discuss 11 tips that can help you immediate relief from sciatica pain!
- Sciatica Pain
- Risk factors for Sciatica
- Causes of Sciatic pain
- Relieve Sciatica Pain
- Other Tips to relieve pain
Sciatica is nerve pain from an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve. This sciatic nerve begins or originates in your buttock/gluteal area. The sciatic nerve is the body’s longest and thickest (almost finger-width) nerve.
The term “sciatica” is commonly used to describe any pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down the leg. This pain is an irritation, inflammation, pinching, or compression of a nerve in your lower back. If you have “sciatica,” you experience mild to severe pain anywhere along the path of the sciatic nerve – that is, anywhere from the lower back, through the hips, buttocks, or down your legs. It can also cause muscle weakness in your leg and foot, numbness in your right or left leg, and an unpleasant tingling pins-and-needles sensation in your leg, foot, and toes.
Risk factors for Sciatica
You are at greater risk of sciatica if you:
- Have an injury/previous injury: A back or spine injury puts you at greater risk of developing sciatica.
- Live life: With age, the bones and disks in your spine naturally wear down. Normal aging exposes your nerves to the risks of being injured or squeezed by the changes and shifts in bone, disks, and ligaments.
- Are overweight: Your spine is similar to a vertical crane. The counterweights are your muscles. The weight you have to lift in the front of your body is what your back (crane) has to work with. The more weight you have, the more work your back muscles must perform (counterweights). This might lead to back strains, discomfort, and other back problems.
- Lack of a strong core: Your biggest muscles are in your back and abdomen. The more robust your core is, the better your lower back will be supported. Unlike your chest, supported by your rib cage, the only support for your lower back comes from your muscles.
- Have an active, physical job: Larger, more complicated home renovations that require heavy lifting have been linked to an increased incidence of low back pain and use of the back. Jobs involving lengthy sitting have also connected to a higher risk of low back discomfort.
- Lack of proper posture in the weight room: Even if you have a good fitness and activity level, you might be vulnerable to sciatica if you don’t adopt the correct body form when weightlifting or other strength-training activities.
- Have diabetes: Diabetes increases your risk of nerve damage, which raises your susceptibility to sciatica.
- Have osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis can harm your spine, putting nerves in danger.
- Lead an inactive lifestyle: Skipping exercises and not keeping your muscles active by sitting for long periods can raise sciatica risk.
- Smoke: Nicotine may inflame, tighten, and damage spinal tissue, reduce bone density and accelerate the erosion of vertebral disks.
Causes of Sciatic pain
- Disk herniation. A herniated or slipped disk that causes pressure on a nerve root. This is the most common cause of sciatica. Disks are the cushioning pads between each vertebra of the spine. Pressure from vertebrae can cause the gel-like center to bulge (herniate) through a weakness in its outer wall. When a herniated disk happens to a vertebra in your lower back, it can press on the sciatic nerve.
- DDD. Degenerative disk disease is the natural wear down of the disks between the spinal vertebrae. The wearing down of the disks shortens their height and leads to the nerve passageways becoming narrower (spinal stenosis). Spinal stenosis can pinch the sciatic nerve roots as they leave the spine.
- Spinal stenosis. This condition is the abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing reduces the available space for the spinal cord and nerves.
- Spondylolisthesis. This spine problem is a slippage of one vertebra so that it is out of line with the one above it, narrowing the opening through which the nerve exits. The extended spinal bone can pinch the sciatic nerve.
- Osteoarthritis. Bone spurs (jagged edges of bone) can form in aging spines and compress lower back nerves.
- Injury from an accident. Trauma injury to the lumbar spine or sciatic nerve. They can sometimes cause permanent nerve damage.
- New growths. Tumors in the lumbar spinal canal could compress the sciatic nerve.
- Neuromuscular issue. Piriformis syndrome is a condition that develops when the piriformis muscle, a small muscle that lies deep in the buttocks, becomes tight or spasms. This can put pressure on and irritate the sciatic nerve. Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder.
Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain
Are you ready to start feeling better? Here are a few treatments worth trying.
Several studies show that people with sciatica who didn’t get relief from other therapies and then tried spinal manipulation experienced the same degree of pain relief as patients who eventually had surgery.
This ancient Chinese medicine practice is starting to gain respect from mainstream Western doctors, and for a good reason. Some research shows that it may work even better than the traditional treatment for back pain. There’s little risk as long as you find a licensed practitioner.
It may not be a cure-all, but it might help you feel better. Try a type called Iyengar yoga, which emphasizes good posture. Research shows that it cuts pain and lets you move around more easily.
Trigger Point Massage
A professional rubdown isn’t just about relaxation. Research shows that massage therapy eases pain and improves how well you can move your lower back. It also helps get blood flowing, encouraging your body to heal itself. Find a therapist specializing in back pain and work some assisted stretching into your session.
St. John’s wort oil, a preparation used to treat mild to moderate depression, is beneficial in acting as a muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, nerve tonic, nerve pain reliever. Another option is an OTC cayenne pepper cream containing capsaicin found in chiles. It hinders the release of pain-causing compounds from nerves.
Ice or Heat
Hot and cold may be opposites, but both can help keep you comfortable. Cold treatment is usually best for an injury that just happened. After about 72 hours, doctors usually suggest switching to heat. Use an ice pack that’s wrapped in a towel, or try a heating pad for about 15-20 minutes at a time. Be careful not to burn your skin.
The herbal medication devil’s claw is “quite a potent anti-inflammatory, working like ibuprofen and similar drugs to inhibit substances that drive inflammation. Some safety reviews show that the supplement is well tolerated by most people but should be avoided by patients with peptic ulcers or on blood-thinning medications.
Pain Relievers and Muscle Relaxants
Take medicines to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling. If home remedies aren’t helping, talk to your doctor. There are many prescription meds, like muscle relaxers and higher-strength NSAIDs, that might make you feel better. Anti-seizure drugs, like gabapentin, also seem to help some people to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Epidural Steroid Injections
Still not feeling better? Your doctor may suggest you get an epidural injection for immediate pain relief — a shot of steroid medication into your spine — especially if you’ve been in pain for more than six months. Studies show mixed results, though, about how well it works. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons.
Exercise and Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can help you correct poor posture or strengthen the muscles that support your lower back. The therapist will create an exercise program that you can do at home, including stretching techniques.
Most people with sciatica don’t need surgery. But your doctor may suggest it if the sciatic nerve pressure causes you to have trouble walking, lose control of your bladder or bowels, or your pain gets worse, and other treatments don’t help. The best procedure depends on what’s causing your symptoms. The most common one removes the part of your herniated disk that’s pressing on the sciatic nerve to relieve pressure.
Other Tips to relieve pain
Give it time
Observe and do nothing; sometimes, the pain or discomfort goes away on its own. “Wait and see” might not be what you want to hear when you’re in pain, but it works. The passage of time is probably the best-proven treatment. About 80%-90% of people with sciatic nerve pain get better within a few weeks.
While a little extra pampering may be in order, don’t stay off your feet for long. Too much bed rest can weaken your muscles. If you don’t feel up to your usual workout, listening to your body’s signals is smart. But try not to sit a lot, or the pain might worsen.
Stretch it out
Incorporate gentle stretching into your daily routine. Stretching is an excellent way to improve your spinal flexibility and range of motion while building core and spinal strength. Plus, most stretches are simple enough to be done while watching the news or your favorite movie.
Fix your posture
Whether you are working at your desk or relaxing at home, if you stay in the same position for too long, you might find that your sciatica pain spikes. Varying your posture every 20 minutes and proper posture can help take pressure off your spine and reduce your sciatica symptoms.
If your pain isn’t too severe, it’s a good idea to stretch, go for short walks, and do any other physical activities that you feel up to. It’s especially important to try to stretch your lower back since that’s where something may be pinching your sciatic nerve.