Did you know that up to four out of 10 people will experience sciatica pain at some point during their lives? When symptoms flare, sciatica pain can make it hard to carry out normal daily activities. Even something as simple as sitting at a desk can cause great discomfort.
If you are suffering from sciatica, our team of experts at DISC Sports & Spine Center wants to help. Here’s what you need to know about this condition, as well as some of our best tips to relieve sciatica pain.
Sciatica: An Overview
Though sciatica pain is often felt in your buttocks or running down your leg, your sciatic nerve actually originates in your lower spine. When your sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed, you may experience pain, weakness, or a burning sensation along the nerve path. The most common causes of sciatica include:
- A herniated disc in your lower back
- Degeneration, or wearing down, of the discs or joints in your spine
- Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of your spinal canal
- Spondylolisthesis, a condition in which the vertebrae in your spine slip forward abnormally on one another
Sciatica symptoms are usually felt on one side of the body, but occasionally, sciatica can affect both sides. The severity of symptoms run the gamut from mild and intermittent to constant and intense.
Our Top 6 Tips to Relieve Sciatica Pain
The good news? There are several things you can try to ease your sciatica pain and stop it from interfering with your everyday life.
Take a rest, but keep it brief.
When sciatica pain flares up, a short period of rest is appropriate. Avoid vigorous exercise or activities that make your pain worse. Taking it easy to allow the inflammation to subside is perfectly appropriate, but prolonged bed rest can make your symptoms worse in the long run.
During periods of rest, be sure to change positions often. Sitting or lying in the same position for an extended time can aggravate your sciatica symptoms.
Make exercise a regular part of your routine.
Regular exercise can help combat sciatica pain. It improves your core strength and flexibility and brings essential nutrients and oxygen to your spine. It is important to take it easy; you should not do anything that further exacerbates your pain. Consider low-impact activities such as yoga, pilates, or water therapy.
Alternate hot and cold therapy.
Apply an ice pack to the area because cold helps reduce inflammation and decreases pain. After using an ice pack, alternate with a heating pad. Heat stimulates blood flow and loosens tight muscles.
Take an NSAID.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are very useful when sciatica pain develops. Common over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can reduce pain and inflammation, making it easier for you to function.
Get a massage.
Massage has many benefits. It can loosen tight muscles that can make your sciatica pain worse and increase the blood flow to your tissues. Massage also causes your body to release endorphins, decreasing your sensations of pain and stress.
Visit a spine specialist for prolonged or significant sciatica symptoms.
This is an important tip: Don’t continue to suffer when there is help available! If other methods fail to improve your pain, make an appointment with a spine specialist. Your doctor may suggest one or more of the following treatments:
- Prescription medications: Pain medications, muscle relaxants, or drugs that target nerve pain may be prescribed.
- Epidural steroid injections: A steroid injection into the area around your sciatic nerve can provide longer-lasting pain control and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Physical therapy: You may be referred to physical therapy to help improve your movement and functioning in addition to reducing your pain.
- Surgery: In some situations, a surgical procedure to correct the underlying problem, such as removing a herniated disc that’s pressing on your sciatic nerve, may be the most appropriate solution. Luckily, with advances in medicine, most of these procedures can be performed as minimally invasive spine surgery.
Try out these tips to relieve your sciatica pain the next time your symptoms flare. If you’d like to learn more about managing your sciatica, request a consultation with one of our specialists at DISC. We can evaluate your individual case and find the treatment plan that works best for you.
About the author
discmdgroup DISC Sports and Spine Center (DISC) is one of America’s foremost providers of minimally invasive spine procedures and advanced arthroscopic techniques. Our individually picked, highly specialized physicians apply both established and innovative solutions to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate their patients in a one-stop, multi-disciplinary setting. With a wide range of specialists under one roof, the result is an unmatched continuity of care with more efficiency, less stress for the patient, and a zero MRSA infection rate. Read more articles by discmdgroup.