Living with sciatica pain is a challenging feat. Not only are you tested physically, but you also have to brave the mental and emotional challenges that come with this condition.
Sciatica pain affects an individual’s walking, standing, and sitting abilities. In many cases, this ailment limits a person’s daily life, including accomplishing simple tasks, going to work, and socializing.
Sciatica is often misdiagnosed. There are cases where it’s categorized as intense back pain. Chronic lower back pain is a symptom enough for you to seek medical attention.
However, not all back pain symptoms are attributed to sciatica pain. This type of chronic pain is debilitating. It can hinder your daily tasks and lower your quality of life.
Typically, sciatica patients turn to chiropractic care, steroid injections, physical therapy, massage, and other non-invasive treatment methodsd to help manage this condition.
Sciatica: The Basics You Need to Know
The sciatic nerve starts from the lower back. It then runs through the buttocks area and all the way down the end of your legs.
It’s the longest nerve in our body. It also controls the muscles in our lower legs. Pain associated with sciatica means that it affects the sciatic nerve and the parts of the body where the sciatic nerve runs.
Aside from the sharp pain that is usually experienced only on one side of the body, there are other symptoms of this condition.
Those with sciatica may also experience tingling, numbness, dull aches, and sometimes, a burning sensation.
This condition is common among adults between 40 and 50. However, younger adults could still experience it.
Sciatica flare-ups are often triggered after extended sitting, strenuous physical activities, coughing, sneezing, and other abrupt movements.
At-Home Exercises and Treatment to Alleviate Sciatica Pain
Sciatica patients are all too familiar with the pain this condition brings. It starts from the lower back and courses all the way down to either the left or right buttock. The pain then travels through the leg and, in most cases, down either foot.
Some sciatica patients experience chronic and debilitating pain – up to the point that their entire day is hindered. The pain is enough that they can’t perform simple daily activities, such as sitting, standing, and walking.
Chronic pain sometimes discourages sciatica patients from committing to treatment. However, with genuine diligence, persistence, and belief in the process, there are conservative treatments you can do to manage sciatica pain.
In this case, conservative treatment refers to non-invasive healthcare options. Some of these treatment methods can be completed in the comfort of your own home.
Let’s take a look at some at-home exercises you can do to manage your sciatica pain.
These treatment options are advisable for those with pain that is not too severe, or individuals who just started experiencing sciatic nerve pain signs and symptoms.
Every situation is different. Thus, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before you attempt any treatment methods and options. Your doctor can advise you if doing any at-home treatments could do more harm than good for your sciatica pain.
Incorporating gentle stretches and exercises into your day could help alleviate sciatic nerve pain. It is generally okay to exercise when having sciatica flare-ups.
However, the essential thing to note here is doing gentle movements. You would not want to aggravate the sciatic nerve pain by doing painful or strenuous physical exercises and stretches.
Some of the gentle physical activities you can do are light walks around the block, mild stretches, light cleaning, and even preparing and cooking easy dishes,
These exercises help in strengthening your spine without adding more stress to it. On top of that, exercises and stretches help initiate the release of endorphins. When you have endorphins coursing through your body, it helps lessen your pain perception and experience.
Mild stretches can also offer great help in managing your sciatica pain. Even if you don’t suffer from sciatic nerve pain, doing daily stretches offers tremendous health benefits.
Daily stretches help in improving the flexibility of your spine. It also enhances your range of motion while increasing your spinal and core strength.
Most stretches are mild and straightforward enough. You can do them while watching your favorite show or movie.
Heat and Ice Therapy
Get a heating pad and ice pad for ice and heat therapy whenever you have sciatica pain. Alternating between the two can give you immediate alleviation from sciatic nerve pain.
Heat therapy encourages blood flow. Ice therapy, on the other hand, reduces inflammation. These methods can promote relief and healing. However, they are only additional treatment options you can do. Heat and ice therapy will not completely treat your sciatica.
Apply the ice pack to the affected. Leave it there for about 15 minutes every hour. You can put the heating pad in the same area for 15 minutes every couple of hours or so.
Always use a towel or other barriers to stop direct contact of the heat or ice on your skin. Also, never sleep while doing ice or heat therapy.
Even if you don’t suffer from sciatic nerve pain, you must be conscious of your posture. When you’re sitting down for an extended period – whether it’s relaxing in front of the TV or working at your desk – it can lead to sciatica flare-ups.
Do not stay in one position for too long. Change your posture every 15 or 20 minutes or so. You can remove pressure from your spine, encourage more blood flow, and alleviate your sciatica symptoms.
Taking some over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could help alleviate sciatica pain when it strikes.
NSAIDs can ease both pain and inflammation. Some popular over the counter NSAIDs are ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, on the other hand, only targets the pain.
However, keep in mind that taking NSAIDs may pose some health risks.
Before you take any kind of medication, even if it’s over the counter, make sure you talk about it first with your doctor.
When Does Sciatica Pain Warrant Seeing My Doctor?
You could certainly try the at-home therapies we mentioned above to help with your sciatic nerve pain. However, when you’ve tried them, and they are not as effective as you might have hoped, it’s time to visit your doctor or see a spine specialist.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are wary about making a doctor’s appointment for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s due to money, lack of health insurance or they just prefer to overlook specific health issues.
Whatever the reason may be, lower back pain – especially if it’s incessant and the pain is developing – necessitates medical attention. In some rare cases, putting off getting medical care for your sciatic nerve pain could result in lasting nerve damage.
Symptoms of Sciatica Pain
If you experience any of the following, please seek medical attention right away.
- Chronic pain in the lower back area and the legs
- Numbness, tingling, pain similar to electric shock, weakness, and other nerve-related conditions
- Persistent pain that doesn’t go away for weeks
- Developing pain with no signs of alleviating even after doing at-home therapies
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
If you are experiencing sciatica pain, the most important thing you must do is to reach out to your doctor. Try any of the at-home therapies we mentioned above. However, don’t entirely rely on them. Medical attention and care will help relieve your sciatic nerve pain.