Why Is This Happening
As we mentioned earlier, sciatica is a symptom and not an actual health condition. Sciatica simply means that the sciatic nerve is being compressed or irritated in some way, resulting in pain. The root cause of sciatic pain needs to be diagnosed by a professional, such as a chiropractor. Some of the more common causes of sciatic pain include:
- Lumbar disc herniation
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis
- Spinal tumor
There are other possible causes, but those are rare. Before your sciatic pain can be relieved, the root cause needs to be determined and addressed.
Take The Stretch Off The Sciatic Nerve
Sciatica at night can make finding a position of comfort extremely difficult. When people ask me about the best way to sleep with sciatica, I ask if they usually lay flat on their backs.
When we sleep laid out flat, this position can lead to a stretching tension on the sciatic nerve.
You should know one thing when it comes to sciatica: Nerves hate to be stretched!
We can take this harmful, painful stretch off the sciatic nerve when sleeping with sciatica through one simple change.
For sciatica nerve pain that shoots down the back of your leg, try placing a pillow:
- Under your knee to allow a slight bend.
- Between your legs sometimes, my clients find that a normal pillow between the legs is not sufficient, as it isnt quite firm enough. To remedy this problem and help you find how to sleep with sciatica, you could try a specially made leg pillow, that separates your knees as you sleep.
- This one here is great value and the exact one Ive recommended to several clients who needed to know how to sleep with sciatica:
- On top of your usual pillow set up. If your sciatica is WORSE when you lean back or when you stand for a long time, sometimes a slightly flexed spine position can alleviate the pressure that bony spurs, disc degeneration and thickened joints exert on the sciatic nerve.
A great video showing you how to position yourself for minimal pain from sciatica at night is shown below:
How Does Body Type Affect Mattress Selection
The more you weigh, the more youll sink into a mattress. This is why lighter people tend to prefer plush, conforming mattresses and heavier people tend to prefer a firmer, more supportive surface. For example, an all-foam mattress may provide the extra pressure relief needed for a person under 130 pounds, while someone over 230 pounds may prefer the more supportive feel of a hybrid or latex mattress. Of course, this will also depend on your preferred sleeping position and other factors.
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Hot Tips For Sleeping With Sciatica
Here are some more ways to improve your sleep with sciatica.
- Keep your body in alignment. Try not to twist your spine or swing your hips over too far to the side.
- Try yoga or light stretching. A gentle yoga or stretch sesh before bed can help reduce nerve pressure. It can also loosen and relax your muscles.
- Swap your mattress. Goldilocks knows whats up. Go with a medium-firm mattress. Studies show theyre best for promoting primo spine health.
- Get a piece of plywood. We know this might sound weird, but hear us out. Put a piece of plywood between your mattress and box spring. It will add a firm layer of support.
- Add tub time to your routine. A warm bath may help soothe lower back pain. Plus a relaxing bath has beaucoup mental health benefits. Win-win.
- Get a body pillow or pregnancy pillow. These bad boys will keep you from flip-flopping throughout the night. They might be extra useful if youre a stomach sleeper since they can stop you from rolling onto your belly.
- Develop good sleep habits. Adopting solid sleep habits can boost the overall quality of your sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, keep your room at a comfy temp, and say no to caffeine before bed.
How To Stop Sciatica Pain Fast
Did you know that the human body is composed of no less than 7 trillion nerves?
All these nerves are all a part of the nervous system and are either a part of the central nervous system where the brain is also a part of, or the peripheral nervous system, which branches off from the spinal cord and extends to different parts of the body.
And from what youve learned in biology class, the nervous system is responsible for sending signals throughout the body via nerves and neurons.
The largest nerve in the body is called the sciatic nerve, which is formed by the merging of five nerve roots from the lower spine down to the buttock, the back of the thigh, and all the way down to the soles of the feet.
When pushed too hard, the sciatic nerve can send a terrible pain signal over a vast area in the body. In this post, well talk about how to stop sciatica pain fast.
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Try One Of The Best Sleeping Positions For Sciatica
Finding a comfortable sleeping position with sciatica is one of the biggest challenge patients experience. These are some of the best sleeping positions for those suffering from lower back pain due to sciatica.
Use a pillow between your legs The pillow is there to help align the hips, pelvis, and spine better.
Sleep in a fetal position When you sleep in this position, you open the space between the vertebrae, providing pressure relief.
Use a pillow under your abdomen If you can only sleep on your stomach, add a pillow under your abdomen. This is particularly helpful for those with degenerative disc disease.
Other Sleep Hygiene Tips
Here are some other ideas for how you can get better rest at night and reduce your back pain:
Put yourself on a sleep schedule. It may be hard to resist sleeping in if you toss and turn all night. Still, setting regular bedtimes and wake times can help your body fall into a more natural sleeping pattern. Aim to get around eight hours of sleep per night.
Having trouble with a sleep schedule? Try following a nightly routine. Start this routine about 30 to 60 minutes before your set bedtime. Choose two soothing activities that help put your mind into a relaxing space.
Ideas include taking a bath, doing some gentle yoga, and engaging in quiet hobbies like reading or knitting.
Skip caffeinated drinks like coffee and other stimulants. If you just have to drink a cup, finish your last one before noon.
Save hard exercise for the morning or early afternoon hours. Doing anything too rigorous before bed may raise your adrenaline levels and even your body temperature. These two factors make it even harder to sleep.
If you dont already have a primary care doctor, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you find a physician in your area.
For pain relief
Use an ice or a cold gel pack before hopping into bed. It may help reduce inflammation in your back and relieve pain. Apply the cold pack to your back for 15 to 20 minutes before sleep.
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Relieve Sciatica Pain Immediately
Note: Acute treatments like exercises and passive treatment options like massage and chiropractic are all very helpful to relieve sciatica pain immediately.
However, during sciatica, your spine has lost its natural strength and flexibility. Hence, your doctor would most probably suggest physical therapy as the best option to get rid of sciatica pain temporarily and immediately.
Now to regain the natural strength, shape, and form of your spine, we will help you discover the natural ways to get rid of sciatica pain.
You may first take your doctors suggestions though and then proceed further.
End Nightly Thigh Pain
Thigh pain at night can be caused by several different conditions or injuries. It can be something as simple as a charley horse or as serious as a blood clot. Talk to your doctor if you have nighttime thigh pain to get a quick and accurate diagnosis. Once you know what you are dealing with then you can come up with a game plan to treat the pain. Medication, stretching, and exercise are a few options that can minimize thigh pain.
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What Is A Herniated Disc
Between the bones of the spine, called the vertebrae, there are small, pillow-like discs. These discs are there to prevent the bones from rubbing against one another and to absorb shock from activities such as running.
When an injury occurs to the spine or when too much pressure is placed on it, these discs can become so compressed that the outside layer breaks apart, allowing the softer inside of the disc to be pushed out, similar to a tube of toothpaste if you squeezed one end very hard.
This is sometimes called a ruptured disc. While you might hear the term slipped disc, this isnt true since the disc cannot slip out from between the vertebrae.
Train Yourself To Have A Healthy Posture During The Day
Think about your daily activities. Which activities contribute to the development of your lower back pains or sciatica? What causes your sciatica to flare up? Does sitting too long or standing for extended periods make your symptoms worse? Do you have a tendency to slouch?
Poor posture and several factors can trigger back pain and sciatica symptoms. Improper body alignment, such as slouching adds extra pressure and stress to sciatic nerves and back muscles. When these muscles and nerves get irritated, signs, and symptoms of back pain and sleeplessness can become more apparent.
If you tend to lean forward or slouch or sit too long, you can benefit from posture correctors or back braces. These kinds of back supports remind the body of the correct way of sitting and aligns the bones and back muscles in the right position.
If your body gets used to the proper body alignment and natural curvature of the spine, there will be less strain on your back, especially when you lay down in bed at night. So, if you have lousy sitting habits or poor posture, consider using back braces and supports.
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Botanical Bliss Organic Latex Mattress
This mattress is made with a range of global organic textile standard- and global organic latex standard-certified materials, such as organic cotton, wool, and organic latex. It also comes with recommendations from orthopedic specialists and chiropractors.
Two layers of Dunlop latex underlie a layer of Talalay latex. The two types of latex offer different levels of firmness, so the mattress blends softness and support.
This mattress also helps keep pressure points on the body free from pain due to the added buoyancy of the latex layers.
The 10 pounds of organic wool keeps the mattress breathable and cool to sleep on while offering high levels of support to keep the body in alignment.
Easing Sciatic Nerve Pain When Resting
Elevating your legs slightly with a pillow or two placed beneath your knees is one way to shift your spines lower alignment enough to minimize nerve passageway narrowing. You may also be able to reduce your lower spines inward curvature as you sleep by:
Using an adjustable mattress Resting or napping in a reclining chair Propping up your knees slightly
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Switch Off All Electronics At Least 1 Hour Before Bedtime
Electronic devices, such as iPhones and tablets, emit a type of light called blue light which affects a part of the brain that keeps you more awake.
If we use these devices just before we go to bed, our brain remains confused and doesnt know whether to keep us up or let us sleep. This can further affect sciatica at night if you take a long time to get comfortable or drift off, that initially mild sciatica pain might turn into a seriously painful episode.
We can prevent this effect by switching off at least an hour before we need to sleep.
A great tip to reduce the level of blue light emissions before bed is to switch your iPhone onto Night Shift mode by sliding up the menu bar on the bottom and selecting that option. You will notice your phone back light turns more yellow. This will help sleeping with sciatica become easier if you have to use your iPhone before bed.
Will It Come Back
Sciatica may recur, especially if the underlying cause isnt treated. For example, if you use improper lifting techniques and developed sciatica after herniating a disc, continuing to use that same lifting technique puts you at risk of injuring your back again.
A 2016 study found that in a group of 341 people seeking non-surgical care for a lower back herniated disc, 23 percent of people with leg pain experienced pain again within a year, and 51 percent experienced pain again within 3 years.
The researchers also found 28 percent of people with lower back pain experienced pain within a year, and 70 percent experienced pain within 3 years.
Making lifestyle changes like the following may help you prevent recurring sciatica symptoms:
- Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
- Minimize sitting, and sit with good posture.
- Avoid bending your back when lifting heavy objects.
- Choose exercises that are unlikely to cause lower back injuries.
- Avoid smoking.
- Minimize your chances of falling by wearing sturdy shoes and keeping the floors of your house free from clutter.
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Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene
There are many ways on how to sleep better with lower back pain and sciatica. One important reminder that is usually dismissed by many individuals is maintaining good sleep hygiene or sleeping habits.
Good sleeping habits mean:
Maintaining a sleep schedule with consistent bedtime-wake time
Avoiding stimulants a few hours before going to bed
Doing gentle yoga exercises or stretches
Taking a relaxing, warm bath
Listening to soothing or calming music
Taming The Pain Of Sciatica: For Most People Time Heals And Less Is More
- By Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH, Contributor
Despite being a less common cause of low back pain, sciatica is still something I regularly see as a general internist. Primary care doctors can and should manage sciatica, because for most individuals the body can fix the problem. My job is to help manage the pain while the body does its job. When a persons symptoms dont improve, I discuss the role of surgery or an injection to speed things up.
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Try Sleeping In Different Positions
If your chronic pain is caused by pinched or compressed nerves, adjusting your sleep position may relieve some of the pressure. For example, people with sciatica who prefer to sleep on their side often find it helpful to sleep with their affected leg on top. People with hip or knee pain may find relief by sleeping with a pillow between their legs.
What Causes Sciatica Pain
Sciatic pain is often caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis , or osteophytes . Compression in the lower back nerves causes inflammation and pinching. Injury to the sciatic nerve creates pain in the lower back and down the back of the legs. This can occur suddenly from an abrupt injury or slowly over time from an illness such as arthritis in the spine.
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Why Does It Appear And How To Treat It
Nerve pain in the knee can be very irritating and life-altering during normal activities as well as leisurely pursuits. Nerve pain in the knee can radiate from the lumbar spine, the pelvis, or the small nerves in the knee. It also can begin after surgery from surgical nerve irritation from the incision, or can be the type of pain related to knee arthritis. At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, we are experts in spine, pain management, and non-surgical orthopedics. We perform a thorough physical examination and musculoskeletal ultrasound of your knee to identify the root cause of your pain and how to treat it appropriately.
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Dont Sleep On Your Stomach
If possible, it is best to avoid it if you have sciatica. Stomach sleeping is actually considered the worse sleeping position as it flattens the spines natural curvature and strains the neck when your head is turned to one side. Even if this position provides sciatica relief, avoid it, so you dont suffer from back and neck problems in the future.
For those who can only console sleep on their stomach, consider switching your mattress to a medium firm mattress. These type of beds will provide your body the support it needs to stay afloat and keep your spine aligned.
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Deal With High Blood Sugar
If your peripheral neuropathy is a side effect of your out-of-control diabetes, you can reduce the pain by getting your blood sugar levels down. This will help reduce the amount of damage to the nerves and relieve some of the pain. Change your diet to cut down on sugar and carbs, work to achieve a healthy weight, and exercise more. If you already have medication for your blood sugar, take it as directed. If not, see your doctor.
Epidural Steroid Injections Under X
Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and pain. If you need this level of relief, Dr. Shah injects the steroid directly into your spine near the sciatic nerve. Although not safe for long-term use, steroid injections are ideal for short-term pain relief that allows you to continue healing through physical therapy.
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