What Is The Most Effective Pain Relief For Sciatica
If you are experiencing sciatic pain, there are many treatment options available to help ease your symptoms, especially if you want to try and relieve the pain at home before seeing your GP.
Sciatica pain relief options include:
Anti-inflammatory drugs – You can use pain relief medication such as ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs that can be bought over the counter in your local pharmacy. These help to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation in the muscles surrounding your spine. It is not advised that you use paracetamol to treat sciatica as this particular medication does not help with the pain.
Heat or ice packs – Using both hot and cold packs can help to alleviate pain. Cold packs can help to reduce inflammation, whilst heat packs can help to increase blood flow to the area. Alternating between the two.
Paingone band Specially designed to ease sciatic pain, the paingone sciatix compresses the acupressure point in your calf to stop the pain radiating up and down your body.
Pharmacy strength medication Your pharmacist can help you find the best painkillers for your pain. Did you know that can get higher strength medication without a prescription in your local pharmacy? Talk to your pharmacist about your sciatic pain and theyll be able to talk you through the strong medication on offer.
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.
Top 10 Knee Pain Relief Treatments
Knee Pain Treatments
The doctor is usually able to rule out the knee problem by checking out the symptoms a patient is experiencing by doing a physical examination. Although in some occasional cases, the doctors might suggest a scan or tests to get a confirmed diagnosis and also to look out for a more specialized treatment for the patient. The course of the treatment depends exactly upon the underlying cause of your knee pain. If a person is waiting for a week to see if the knee pain subsides on its own but all in vain, then they might need a proper treatment from an orthopedic. The treatments for knee pain include helping the foot problems or making the hips stronger if the knee pain is mild and is only due to some minor muscular injury.
The doctors usually recommend one of these following treatments for treating knee pain:
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Exercise And Physical Therapy
Moving is usually the last thing people dogged by sciatica want to do, but it’s important to be physically active. “Lying in bed makes it more likely that the pain will last longer,” says Ruppert. “Exercise increases blood flow to the disk and the nerve, helping to get rid of the chemicals causing the inflammation.” Take 15- to 20-minute walks. If that hurts too much, give swimming or water aerobics a try there’s not as much pressure on the back when you’re in the water, says Ruppert. It may also be worth seeing a physical therapist, who can prescribe stretching exercises to restore flexibility to the back or moves that strengthen core muscles, helping to stabilize the spine and reduce the likelihood of a similar injury.
What Causes Sciatica Pain
Sciatica is caused by the compression of one or more nerve roots in the lumbar spine or sacrum . These nerve roots form the top piece of the sciatic nerve which extends all the way to the big toe, explaining sciaticas radiating pain.
The top portion of the sciatic nerve becomes compressed when it makes contact with another spinal structure, such as an intervertebral disc or bone. Intervertebral discs and spinal bones are commonly misplaced after enduring injuries like disc herniation, bony spurs, or spondylolisthesis , resulting in irritation of spinal nerves.
Regardless of the reason for your sciatic nerve pain, you are probably looking for immediate relief. Your best bet is to contact your doctor or physical therapist. A medical professional can perform the sciatica test to determine if the source of your pain is truly sciatica from there, your doctor will likely prescribe conservative care focused on physical activity and pain managementincluding the use of both cold and heat therapy.
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What Is Sciatica And What Causes It
Sciatica is defined as pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve originates in the low back and may branch out into the hips, glutes, and back of the legs all the way to the toes. Knowing the cause of your pain will help you reduce it.
The cause of sciatic nerve can be mechanical, ischemic , or inflammatory and sometimes pain is a combination of all three including changes that occur in the brain too.
Mechanical sciatic nerve pain can usually get better with a specific treatment called the McKenzie Method, also known as Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy . The McKenzie Method analyzes the effects of movements and body positions on your symptoms through an extremely detailed assessment by a health care provider such as a physical therapist certified in the McKenzie Method.
Ischemic sciatic nerve pain can result from compression on the sciatic nerve resulting in ischemia . The goal to treat ischemic pain is to reduce compression on the nerve to allow the normal flow of electrical signals through the nerve fibers. Compression is typically caused by issues with bone spurs, disc herniations, or other degenerative changes that directly affect the nerve roots. In rare cases, it can be caused by a serious problem like a tumor encroaching on the nerve root.
Do Use Heat Or Cold To Relieve Sciatica Pain
While many people suffering from sciatica want to reach for an over the counter pain medicine to relieve their pain, a better alternative to reducing pain is to use either heating or cooling packs. Frequent use of pain medication is not good for the liver or stomach and can even cause stomach ulcers. Try to reach for either a heating pad or a cold pack instead!
Heating pads can help to soothe sore muscle that might be tense and cause pressure to be put on the sciatic nerve. Cooling packs, however, can help to reduce the inflammation of the muscle surrounding the sciatic nerve. Its also possible to alternate heating and cooling using cold and heat therapy. If you decide to use either heat or cold, make sure to cycle them on and off about every 15 minutes to reduce the risk of skin damage.
Cold packs can make your skin go numb and even give minor frostbite so make sure to cover them up in an old shirt or towel before using them. Also, always make sure to use the protective cloth that comes with most heating pads in order to avoid burning yourself.
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Herbs For Sciatica Pain Treatment
Generally, those who suffer from sciatica can find some measure of relief in stretching, frequently changing positions, and exercise. Many, however, turn to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for sciatica pain treatment. Unfortunately, when they opt for these pills, they are assuming numerous risks in an an effort to rid themselves of their sciatica. Fortunately, there are alternatives. They arent as widely known as the big-name over-the-counter drugs because their makers dont have the same marketing budget and they arent given the same amount of attention from the medical field. Still, many of these herbal choices have proven effective again and again in the treatment of sciatica pain.
How Long Does Sciatica Last
With proper treatment, most sciatica cases resolve within 4 to 8 weeks. However, some symptoms, such as tingling, may take slightly longer to subside. If your sciatica pain lasts longer than 8 weeks, it is considered chronicit may require lifestyle changes or the attention of a specialist to appropriately manage recurring episodes.
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Precautions While Using Cold Therapy
Overuse or an extended duration of cooling therapy may lead to skin damage, such as frostbite and/or damage to the superficial nerves .3,4 General precautions to be taken during the application of cold therapy include:
- Check the duration. Apply the ice pack on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time with a 2-hour break before the next application.
- Put on a barrier. Protect your skin by placing a cloth or other protective barrier between yourself and the source of cold.
- Use ice massage sparingly. While performing an ice massage directly on your skin, avoid the bony protrusions of the spine and stop as soon as numbness is felt . Repeat only after the numbness wears off completely and avoid several repetitions of this treatment.
Ice therapy can provide immediate and meaningful relief to your sciatica pain. Ice therapy is particularly useful in acute pain, a flare-up of chronic pain, and/or activity or exercise-induced pain. Follow these guidelines to safely use ice therapy for your sciatica symptoms. Consider performing simple lower back stretches and exercises when your pain subsidesto help strengthen your lumbar tissues and prevent a recurrence of sciatica.
Benefits Of Heat Therapy For Back Pain
Heat therapy is an effective remedy for back pain because it boosts circulation, which then allows nutrients and oxygen to travel to joints and muscles. This circulation helps repair damaged muscles, relieves inflammation, and improves back stiffness.
Any type of heat therapy can help relieve back pain. Yet, heating pads are ideal because theyre convenient and portable. Theyre also electric, so you can use them anywhere in your home, such as lying in bed or sitting on the couch.
Hot or warm baths provide moist heat, which also promote circulation and reduce muscle pain and stiffness. A bath might work better if you have pain or stiffness in other parts of your body, too.
The problem with baths, though, is that its difficult to maintain the water temperature. That water will slowly cool down.
On the other hand, heating pads have adjustable levels and provide a continuous flow of heat for as long as the pad is turned on.
If you dont have a heating pad, taking a warm shower or relaxing in a hot tub may also relieve back pain and stiffness. One benefit of a hot tub and shower over a bath is continuous heat similar to a heating pad.
Electric heating pads can get hot quickly and injure the skin, so its important to use them correctly.
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How To Make A Homemade Heating Pad
If you dont have a heating pad, you can make your own using items already in your house.
For this to work, you need an old cotton sock, regular rice, and a sewing machine, or a needle and thread.
Fill the old sock with rice, leaving just enough space at the top of the sock to sew the ends together. Next, put the sock in the microwave for about 3 to 5 minutes.
Once the microwave stops, carefully remove the sock and apply it to your back. If the sock is too hot, let it cool or wrap it in a cloth before using.
You can also use the rice sock as a cold pack. Just put it in the freezer before applying to acute injuries.
Home Remedies For Sciatica Turmeric
Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory properties therefore, it should be considered as one of effective home remedies for sciatica. Moreover, it contains curcumin, a compound that helps to reduce inflammation and nerve pain. In order to treat sciatica with turmeric, you should add one teaspoon of turmeric into one cup of milk. If you want, you can put a small cinnamon stick into it. After that, boil the solution. When it finishes, turn of the heat and add a little of honey to make it sweet. It is recommended drinking this solution once or twice daily for a few weeks in order to see the significant improvement.
Alternatively, if you do not want to consume turmeric milk, you can take turmeric supplements instead. However, make sure that you do not take too many supplements because it can result in some unwanted side effects. Although the amount of turmeric taken depends on individual, commonly patients of sciatica should take 250 to 500 mg turmeric per day divided into three times a day. Before choosing turmeric supplement as one of effective home remedies for sciatica, you should consult doctor before taking. If you are taking diabetes and blood thinners, turmeric treatment is not suitable for you. Moreover, patients with gallstones should also avoid it.
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Precautions And Safety Tips
Heating pads are effective for pain management, but they can be dangerous when used improperly. Here are a few safety tips to avoid injury.
- Dont place a heating pad or heated gel pack directly on your skin. Wrap it in a towel before applying to skin to avoid burns.
- Dont fall asleep using a heating pad.
- When using a heating pad, start on the lowest level and slowly increase the heat intensity.
- Dont use a heating pad that has a cracked or broken electrical cord.
- Dont apply a heating pad to damaged skin.
If You Answered With Stiffness In The Leg
Although this is a rarer complaint, if stiffness in the leg was someones main sciatica symptom, I would opt for applying heat to the affected buttock.
This would encourage better mobility for the sciatic nerve around the hip and allow greater movement of the leg.
To use this technique, follow this method:
- Start laying on your front on a bed or mat . Never sit on a hot water bottle
- Take a hot water bottle
- Apply it immediately to your affected buttock
- Keep it there for 15 minutes, then remove
- Allow the skin to cool to a natural temperature, then repeat the process
- Always look out for any signs of heat burn on your skin and remove immediately if you see or feel anything.
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When To Use Both Heat & Ice Called: Contrast Therapy
You can use ice and heat separately, or in some cases, together, which is known as contrast therapy. The key to contrast therapy is to start with heat and finish with ice. This has to do with the dilation and constriction of blood flow to the injured area.
You want to start with dilating the blood vessels with heat, followed by constriction of blood vessels with the ice. This works to create a pumping effect. which promotes healing of the area. Contrast therapy is generally used after the first 72 hours, before you start to apply heat on its own.
Is Bed Rest Good For A Pinched Nerve
If your pain is severe, one or two days of bed rest is fine, but prolonged rest may worsen sciatica. Muscle stiffness and weakness often accompany sciatic pain, and immobility will only intensify these symptoms. Getting in some low-impact exercise as soon as you feel ready will loosen and strengthen the affected muscles and aid your recovery, says Dr. Bhavik Sheth, Physical Therapist.
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What Can I Expect If I Have Been Diagnosed With Sciatica
The good news about sciatic pain is that it usually goes away on its own with time and some self-care treatments. Most people with sciatica get better without surgery, and about half of these recover from an episode fully within six weeks.
Be sure to contact your healthcare provider if your sciatica pain is not improving and you have concerns that you arent recovering as quickly as hoped.
Heat Pads For Sciatica
Sciatica is a very common and painful condition that can occur in the back, legs, hips and even feet. It is caused by the sciatic nerve that runs from your hips to your feet being irritated, which is often triggered by a compressed nerve in the lower spine. For most sciatica sufferers, symptoms will last between 4-6 weeks but for many, it can be an ongoing occurrence! Heat therapy has been known to help ease the pain of sciatica, allowing sufferers to go about their daily lives, without having to feel constant pain in the lower half of their bodies.
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Heating And Cooling Combination Therapy
Now, in cases of serious sciatica symptoms and pain, one can always opt for the combination therapy, where both heat and cold are used to reduce pain levels and increase mobility. As mentioned before, cold therapy eases inflammation, while heat therapy deals with muscle tension and soreness. With this combination, youre getting the best of both worlds. The combination therapy is applied in an intertwined manner or can be used in 20-minute intervals, throughout the day. Here are some tips on how can you try the combination therapy at home
Reduce Inflammation With Food
One of the factors that contributes most to sciatic nerve pain is the inflammation in surrounding areas of the back. While care at a chiropractic clinic and physical therapy can help with inflammation, eating a diet with anti-inflammatory properties can also be a way to control this symptom.
A proper diet should contain whole grains, natural foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fatty fish like salmon, and both soluble and insoluble fiber in order to help reduce inflammation. Including things like turmeric, ginger, green and black tea are all excellent sources of anti-inflammatory substances, as well as contributing to overall health and improved immunity. Over time, your body will build up anti-inflammatory substances and reduce long-term occurrences of sciatica.
To reduce inflammation, you should also avoid things like sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and hydrogenated oil which can worsen the inflammation. In addition to foods, smoking can induce inflammation and should be avoided.
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