Sciatica may seriously impede the everyday actions of a person. Namely, it causes unbearable pain along the length of the sciatic pain. This means that it starts from the lower back nerve, through the hips and buttock, up to the legs.
Sciatic pain might appear in the case the sciatic nerve is pressed by a bone spur, herniated disc or spine narrowing. It may also come as a result of a piriformis syndrome and pregnancy.
In the first case, the sciatic nerve is compressed and spasmed by the piriformis muscle, which helps the hip rotation, while in the latter, it is pressed by the expanded uterus of the woman.
In order to treat this issue, you need to identify the cause of your pain. Then, apart from the conventional treatment, we recommend 18 ways to help yourself.
Mark Milstein, MD, a neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, claims that “it’s important to note that prolonged bed rest does not help resolve symptoms faster.”
Therefore, even though you feel like laying in the bed all day when sciatica pain strikes you, you should try physical therapy. Dr. Milstein suggests that:
“It’s an effective treatment for most patients with sciatica, and given the usual restrictions of pharmacologic treatment during pregnancy, it’s even more important for expectant mothers.”Hence, you should lead you through exercises that will alleviate sciatica symptoms.
Dr. Hameed believes that massage can provide a short- term pain relief. Therefore, you should find a good practitioner, who will practice moderate pressure, in order to avoid symptoms of flare due to deep- tissue stimulation and aggressive methods.
Chiropractors may provide a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical method in order to treat sciatica. Namely, a study conducted in 2010 demonstrated that 60% of sciatica patients had the same results from chiropractic care as those who have done surgery to cure the issue.
Moreover, this therapy can be combined with other methods as well. You can use the American Chiropractic Association to find a licensed chiropractor to help your problems.
Prescription pain patches
Although not designed particularly for this cause, pain patches may be effective in some cases. The active ingredient in Lidoderm patches, Lidocaine, is a topical anesthetic that prevents the pain messages from the nerves which are subject to the irritation.
On the other hand, Flector patches contain diclofenac polyamine, which is a topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which is classified in the same group as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Hence, it has been primarily produced to cure acute pain in the case of sports injuries, and Lidoderm for alleviating burning after recovering from shingles, but Dr. Kong suggests that “they’re found to be helpful for some patients.”
Heat or ice
If your sciatica pain has been caused by a muscle spasm, like in the case of piriformis syndrome, you should attempt the application of heat( a heating patch, a heating pad, or a hot water bottle; at a temperature of 104 degrees), or ice packs.
Farah Hameed, MD, a sports and spine specialist and the medical director of Women’s Health Rehabilitation at Columbia University Medical Center in New York suggests “Stick to 15 or 20 minutes at a time to give your skin a chance to recover, especially if you’re using ice. The more local the pain is, the more beneficial the application of heat or cold will be”.
In the case of unbearable pain due to a herniated disk, and of conventional treatments have failed to help you, you should try a diskectomy. It is a surgery which includes the removal of the damaged area of the disk.
Thus, surgery is safe, but studies have shown that after a year, the pain and disability improvements that followed the surgery weren’t much greater for diskectomy patients in comparison to individuals who did not of the surgery.
A lumbar pillow
Dr. Milstein also notes that “Prolonged sitting has been associated with increased risk of developing sciatica, so it’s important to maintain good posture while sitting at a desk.” In this case, it would be of great help to use a pillow and place it against your lower back, in order to support the natural curve and to prevent the possibility to hunch forward.
Moreover, Dr. Hameed says that the McKenzie Lumbar Roll will help a lot, which is bolster-shaped cushion “that helps you to be a little more upright; you can put it behind you in your chair at the office, or in your car for use while driving.”
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.