Treating Sciatica Pain And Managing Expectations
Many people think that the worse the pain, the more likely something bad is going on. However, this isnt true for sciatica. The body can reabsorb the disc material that is causing symptoms, even for those with severe pain. So, treatment focuses on controlling pain and keeping people as active as possible. If the pain is excruciating, lying down for short periods can help, but prolonged bed rest does not. So, once the pain diminishes, I tell patients to get up and start walking short distances. Since sitting increases pressure on the discs in the lower back, I recommend avoiding prolonged sitting or driving. Many people try treatments like physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic manipulation, but evidence suggests that while these approaches may help typical low back pain, they are less helpful for sciatica. Over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen can help. When they dont, I may recommend short-term use of stronger, prescription pain medicines.
Patients often ask about spinal injections where steroid medicine is injected into the affected area. It is worth considering for those with uncontrolled pain or for those with persistent, bothersome symptoms who want to avoid surgery. Injections can provide short-term relief. Like any procedure, it has uncommon risks including more pain, and it doesnt seem to decrease the need for future surgery.
Secret #8: The Best Exercises For Relief Of Sciatica Pain
When you suffer from sciatic pain, the last thing you can think about is exercise, but this is exactly what you will need to do. Resting will help for the first day or two, but after that, you need to get up and get moving. Continuing to simply rest more than just a few days will, believe it or not, make your pain worse and harder to heal.
A few of the most recommended exercises when you have sciatica pain are:
- Swimming – Find a stroke that causes you little or no pain and try to swim without stopping for 20-30 minutes. A heated pool will help!
- Walking – If walking seems too painful at first, try taking smaller steps. We arent talking about race walking or jogging, this is not a race or a timed event. Get out and walk at least 30 minutes 5 days per week.
- Water aerobics – You can usually find these classes at your local YMCA or YWCA.
- Foundation Training – These arent so much exercise as simply teaching our bodies to move in a certain way while we perform everyday tasks. This type of program uses 15 different ways to reduce and prevent pain by optimizing posture.
When your chiropractor approves of it, or when you feel less pain, you can move on to more advanced exercise routines that can strengthen muscles that will help prevent sciatica in the future, including:
- Strength training
- Low impact aerobics
- Core strengthening exercise routines
Sciatica Or Other Back Pain
Up to 85% of Americans experience some type of back pain during their lives. But this doesn’t always involve the sciatic nerve. In many cases, back pain is the result of overextending or straining the muscles in the lower back. What most often sets sciatica apart is the way the pain radiates down the leg and into the foot. It may feel like a bad leg cramp that lasts for days.
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How To Fix Bad Sciatic Pain
This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 85% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 267,647 times.
Experts say that sciatic pain, called sciatica, is typically caused by a herniated disk, bone spur, or narrowing of your spine. Typically, sciatica causes radiating pain that starts in your lower back may radiate through your buttocks, hip, and thigh.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source Research suggests that most people with sciatic pain improve in a few weeks with self care. In the meantime, over-the-counter pain relievers and rest may help you manage your pain.XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical School’s Educational Site for the PublicGo to source
Questions To Answer Before Considering Sciatica Surgery
Sciatica is the type of pain that originates in your lower back and typically radiates down one or both of your legs. It results from the inflammation of the sciatic nerve in your lower back. The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy: pinching of a nerve as it exits the spine.
Surgery is one of the treatment options for sciatica, but it’s not for everyone. Below are some important questions to consider before making your decision, addressed by orthopaedic surgeon Brian Neuman.
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Stretch And Build Muscles To Relieve Physical Stresses
Exercises that include stretching and strengthening can help relieve stress in your lower back. Exercise also promotes healing of soft tissues, improves the functioning of the nervous system, and may decrease your sensitivity to pain.1 Sciatica exercises include techniques that help relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve roots and build strength in the lower spine, abdomen, and legs.
Using infrared or heat therapy before an exercise helps warm up and loosen stiffness in the tissues. You can use an ice pack after the exercise to treat any pain or soreness. Simple stretches can be done at home or at your office when you have recurrent or flaring sciatica symptoms. Always exercise within tolerable limits and start with 2 to 3 repetitions, slowly moving up to 5.
In some preparations, more than one drug may be combined together. While using topical medication, avoid using a heat patch3 or ice pack over the area at the same time. Combining both therapies may reduce and/or alter the effects of topical pain medications.3
What Causes Sciatica During Pregnancy
You can blame sciatica during pregnancy on the usual suspects:
- Weight gain and increased fluid retention can put pressure on the sciatic nerve where it passes through the pelvis, compressing it.
- Your expanding uterus might also press down on the sciatic nerve in the lower part of your spine.
- Your growing belly and breasts shift your center of gravity forward and stretch your lordotic curve . This can cause the muscles in your buttocks and pelvic area to tighten up and pinch the sciatic nerve.
- Your baby’s head can rest directly on the nerve when he starts to settle into the proper birth position in the third trimester.
- A herniated or slipped disc caused by the extra pressure of your growing uterus can be the culprit, although this is less common.
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Using Cold And Heat To Alleviate Sciatica Pain
When you first start experiencing sciatica pain, applying a cold pack can provide a lot of relief. Wrap a cold pack or a bag of frozen peas in a clean towel, and apply it to the painful area a few times a day for up to 20 minutes each time.
If your sciatica is still bothering you after a few days, then it can be helpful to try heat instead. Apply a heat lamp on the lowest setting, a hot pack, or a heating pad to the painful area.
If your pain persists, try alternating between cold packs and hot packs.
Which Treatments Have You Already Tried
There are several ways to manage sciatica without surgery, depending on the cause. They may include pain relief medications, steroid injections, physical therapy, aquatic therapy, meditation and nerve blocks, among others. What works for one person may not be as effective for someone else.
There are several types of doctors who treat sciatica pain. If you feel like you have exhausted your options with your primary care physician, consider making an appointment with a rehabilitation physician or a pain medicine specialist before calling a surgeon. Because every person experiences pain differently, it often takes working with the right specialist to find the combination of treatments that works for you.
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Secret #5: Mindful Meditation
You might be rolling your eyes at this one, but that simply means that you have never tried mindful meditation to control chronic pain. We understand if youre skeptical, everyone is before they try it.
While this practice wont heal an underlying problem, it is a way to help control pain, especially chronic pain, and it is scientifically proven. Even those who only dabbled in this type of meditation found substantial pain relief, so you dont even have to be a guru to reap the benefits.
Mindful meditation is shown to reduce pain levels by as much as 57%. Those who really master the art can reduce their pain by 90%. This works by soothing the brain patterns that are altered by pain, so that you no longer feel pain with the same level of intensity as before.
If you want a more complete explanation of how mindful meditation can help to change the way your brain observes pain and how to practice this ancient method, you can find more information here.
What Complications Are Associated With Sciatica
Most people recover fully from sciatica. However, chronic pain can be a complication of sciatica. If the pinched nerve is seriously injured, chronic muscle weakness, such as a drop foot, might occur, when numbness in the foot makes normal walking impossible. Sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage, resulting in a loss of feeling in the affected legs. Call your provider right away if you lose feeling in your legs or feet, or have any concerns during your recovery time.
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How To Use Tennis Ball Massage To Relieve Sciatica Pain
Grab a tennis ball and get ready for some relief. Below are some;simple steps;for how to use a tennis ball for massaging sciatica pain:
- Lay down on the floor and place the tennis ball under the gluteal muscle where you are experiencing the pain
- Lift the same leg up in the air so that your other leg, arms and back are supporting you on the floor
- Begin to slide your glute over the tennis ball slowly and steadily
- If you feel a pain point, pause for a few seconds, let the pain release and then continue to roll
Keep in mind, if you do feel a pain point, the pain should not be too strong. If it feels strong or unbearable, adjust the ball or add more balls to get rid of that direct pressure from a single ball.
Youll want to compress every trigger point you find for 10 to 15 seconds before moving on to the next spot. Another option is to just roll around gently back and forth over top of the pain area.
If you want to see a live demonstration in action, you can find plenty of YouTube videos on tennis ball massage. There are plenty of personal trainers out there eager to divulge advice on this topic.
Benefits of the Tennis Ball Massage to Relieve Sciatica Pain
Sciatic pain relief isnt the only benefit youll encounter when it comes to tennis ball massage. Tennis balls can also be used as a pain relief tool for lower, middle and upper back pain.
It doesnt stop there, you can also use a tennis ball to massage your feet, hips, thighs and knees as well.
Avoid Prolonged Rest And Start A Structured Progressive Exercise Routine
While it seems counterintuitive to recommend staying active rather than rest, your pain will increase with prolonged inactivity and decrease with motion.1
Useful tips to help you stay active during the day are:
- Use the stairs instead of an elevator.
- Park in a distant parking space to get a few extra walking steps.
- If you have a desk job, get up every 30 minutes to an hour and walk a short distance.
- Consider switching to a standing desk with adjustable height.
- Perform simple stretches that you can do while sitting on your office chair, such as stretching your hamstrings.
- Go for regular, short walks in the morning and/or evening, even if it is for a few minutes every day.
It is a good idea to work with a physical therapist and/or make exercise a part of your daily routine. A regular routine of structured exercise can help support and hold up your spine and lessen your sciatica symptoms by strengthening your abdominal, core, lumbar , and pelvic muscles.2,3,4;Your spinal discs are also nourished when you exercise, allowing the flow of nutrients and encouraging healing.5
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How Long Should I Try Self
Every person with sciatic pain is different. The type of pain can be different, the intensity of pain is different and the cause of the pain can be different. In some patients, a more aggressive treatment may be tried first. However, generally speaking, if a six-week trial of conservative, self-care treatments like ice, heat, stretching, over-the-counter medicines has not provided relief, its time to return to a healthcare professional and try other treatment options.
Other treatment options include:
Which Health Care Specialties Treat Sciatica
Physician specialties that evaluate and treat sciatica range from generalists to subspecialists. These specialties include general medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, gynecology, orthopaedics, neurosurgery, rheumatology, pain management, and physiatry. Other health care providers for low back pain include physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, psychologists, and acupuncturists.
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How Long Does Sciatica Last
The duration of sciatica is critically dependent on its cause. A herniated disc, back sprain, shingles, and degenerative lumbar spine can all cause temporary forms of sciatica, lasting from days to weeks. Each can also cause chronic sciatica. Sometimes degeneration of the lumbar spine and discs can cause chronic sciatica that persists unless a surgical intervention is performed.
Southern Cross Medical Library
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to;the Medical Library index page.
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Tips For Relieving Sciatica Pain
Do you have back pain or sciatica? In a study reported in the journal Orthopedics, 650 people were examined for low back pain or sciatica. About 25% had reported an episode of sciatica in the past 6 months of the study. This shows how common sciatica really is. Sciatica is a term used to describe pain in the buttock or radiating down the leg that is caused by irritation to the sciatic nerve. There are many causes of back pain that can radiate pain down the leg, such as a herniated disc. However, true sciatica is specific to the sciatic nerve being irritated or compressed. This can occur in the back or in the buttock.
Symptoms of sciatica Sciatica typically presents as aching pain to the buttock traveling to the back or side of the thigh. It can also present with numbness or tingling. In severe cases, extreme pain and weakness in the leg may result, causing a buckling sensation to the leg.
What can be done to help sciatica? It is important to treat the cause of the sciatica and not the symptoms. Medication may help to numb the pain and decrease the inflammation, but it does not treat the cause of the pressure or irritation on the sciatic nerve. Here are important tools for you to relieve sciatica pain:
Sciatica Physiotherapy: 5 Things You Need To Know That Google May Not Tell You
April 2, 2018 By Amy Fahlman
As a physiotherapist, it is a common occurrence for someone to walk into my office claiming they have sciatica. Somehow sciatica, the medical term for leg pain generated by the sciatic nerve, has become the umbrella term for all pain that is generated in the back or the hips and travels down the leg.
However, this is not always the case. Various body structures or tissues can cause pain to refer down the leg, and they all require different treatment. Thats why it is critical to identify the appropriate term for your leg pain before assuming it is sciatica.
For example, if you are experiencing leg pain and turn to Google for sciatica exercises, you may end up with movements for the wrong diagnosis, which could worsen the problem. This blog post will discuss 5 things you need to know regarding sciatica physiotherapy, including the distinctly different causes of sciatica-like pain patterns, and how the exercises differ with each one.
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Note: Piriformis Syndrome Feels Like Sciatica But It Isnt
There is a muscle where the thigh bone meets the buttocks called the piriformis. When this muscle becomes tight, it can irritate the sciatic nerve, causing similar pain, but this isnt truly sciatica, where the nerve is compressed.
Why does this matter? The treatments for piriformis syndrome and sciatica are different. Your chiropractor will be able to diagnose what the root cause is and whether or not you have sciatica.
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