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Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief: A Guide
Sciatica affects about 40% of the population. Those with the condition suffer from numbness and tingling in one leg at a time, and lower back pain. Some experience hip pain and in severe cases, loss of bowel function.
The good news is that there are ways to get sciatic nerve pain relief. Your doctor can prescribe medication and physical therapy. Over-the-counter medications have been known to help as well.
Sometimes, the pain goes away on its own. Even though you may not want to wait things out when you’re in pain, it can be worth it to avoid a trip to the doctor.
These are only a few treatments for you to consider. Continue reading to learn more.
What Is Your Sciatic Nerve?
Your sciatic nerve starts in the lower back area and branches out into the buttocks, legs, and hips. When you experience sciatica, the pain will travel along this route.
Most people describe it as a shock or a knife in the back. It can also manifest as an intense burning sensation.
In some cases, it can be so debilitating that you can’t stand up. Those with this condition may also suffer from muscle spasms.
Common Causes of Sciatica
Sciatic nerve pain can spin off of a variety of medical conditions. The most common causes are a slipped disk, degenerative disk disease, spinal stenosis, cauda equina syndrome, bone spurs, piriformis syndrome, and spondylolisthesis.
Disks are cushioning pads that rest between the vertebrae in your spine. Pressure from the vertebrae can put a strain on the gel-like center of the disk and cause it to bulge out.
This is known as a herniated disk. The bulge will sit on the sciatic nerve and cause pain throughout the body. It’s perhaps the most common cause of sciatica.
Degenerative Disk Disease
As you get older, the disks in your vertebra may start to wear down naturally.
When that happens, your nerve passageways will start to shrink and pinch your sciatic nerve.
Spinal stenosis can best be described as the narrowing of the spinal canal. The less space available, the less room your nerves and spinal cord will have.
Cauda Equina Syndrome
Cauda equina syndrome is a rare condition. As the name suggests, it damages the cauda equina nerves that rest at the end of the spinal cord.
It can cause pain to shoot down your legs. You may experience numbness and a loss of bladder function.
Bone spurs are jagged pieces of bone. They can start to form as you get older and put a strain on the nerves in your lower back.
There is a muscle in the buttocks called a piriformis. When it becomes tight or spasms, it can cause a chain reaction throughout your entire spine and irritate your sciatic nerve. Like Cauda equina syndrome, piriformis syndrome is pretty rare.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition where one of your vertebrae is knocked out of alignment from the one above it.
This doesn’t give your nerves very much room to work with and can pinch your sciatic nerve.
If you’ve had an injury, it can increase your chances of developing sciatica. As you get older, and your bone tissue begins to wear down, sciatica might not be too far behind.
The more weight you carry, the harder your spine has to work. Over time, it can cause sciatica and a wide range of other back problems.
Diabetes leads to nerve damage, which can lead to sciatica. The chemicals in cigarettes weaken your bones and spinal tissue. If you smoke, the disks in your vertebrae will begin to wear down.
Contrary to popular belief, humans aren’t meant to sit for long periods of time. To keep your bones and muscles strong, you’ll need to stand up and walk around throughout your day.
Your core is the muscles that exist in your back and abdomen. The stronger your core, the more support your back will have.
If your job involves a lot of heavy lifting, it can put a strain on your lower back and trigger sciatica symptoms.
While sciatic nerve pain can be debilitating, you do have treatment options. Your doctor can give you medication for it. In some cases, over-the-counter medications will be enough to give you some relief.
A good massage could stimulate blood flow and eliminate some of your pain. Hot packs and cold packs are good solutions as well.
A physical therapist can instruct you on stretches and exercises you can do at home. You also need to keep yourself standing and moving.
Wait It Out
When you’re in a lot of pain, the last thing you want to do is wait it out. You have a busy life. You don’t have time to be debilitated by your back pain.
In truth, however, sometimes waiting is all you can do. The pain could go away by itself after a few weeks. If it doesn’t, then it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor.
Buy a Standing Desk
The longer you sit, the more stress you’re putting on your spine. You need to take some time to stand up during the day, even if it’s just to go to the water fountain at work.
Investing in a standing desk will also allow you to get off your feet at regular intervals. The more often you utilize it, the longer you’ll be able to stand at one time.
Having a standing desk will also cut down your risk of developing obesity, and it can increase your levels of productivity.
When you’re not in constant back pain, you can focus more on getting your work done. You’ll find yourself having more energy to tackle your day.
Stretching may hurt your back at first, but after a while, it could begin to provide you with some relief. Start with a basic seated glute stretch.
Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Take your right leg and bend it toward your body. Place it on your left knee, and lean forward.
Hold the position for about 15 seconds and repeat the process with your other leg.
Doing a basic sitting spinal stretch can help take some pressure off your spine. As with the stretch above, you should begin by sitting on the ground with your legs out in front of you.
Bend your right leg and bring it over your left. Place your left elbow on the outside of your right leg, and use it to rotate your body to the right.
Keep Yourself Moving
If you’re not in so much pain that you can’t get off your couch, use the opportunity to get yourself moving. Hop on a treadmill or take a short walk.
Try out some of the stretches listed above or simply get off your feet for a few minutes. If you stay in the bed too much, your muscles will weaken, which will only make things worse.
Use Cold or Hot Packs
If your sciatic nerve injury just happened, you can treat it with ice packs. Wrap a pack of frozen peas in a towel and place it on your back for about twenty minutes.
You can also reduce inflammation and get relief from using a heating pad. Be sure to put it on its lowest setting so you don’t burn yourself.
Over-the-counter painkillers can help bring down inflammation and ease your sciatica symptoms. If they don’t work, it’s possible that you might need something a bit stronger.
Your doctor might be able to prescribe muscle relaxers and higher-strength painkillers. Ordering your prescription online is cheap and you can do it with a few clicks of your computer mouse.
Bad posture habits won’t do wonders for your back pain. A physical therapist can help you correct the way you stand and sit.
They can also teach you how to do exercises that will take pressure off your back. They’ll include a few stretches in their instructions that you can do right at home.
Schedule a Massage
Getting a massage can help you wind down after a tough week at the office, and it can relieve your back pain.
It stimulates blood flow and encourages the healing process to begin. For the best results, schedule a session with someone who specializes in back pain.
Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief Is Within Your Grasp
Sciatica is a common condition that puts almost 40% of the US population in debilitating pain. The good news is that you can get sciatic nerve pain relief with the right treatments.
Talk to your doctor about medications, try using a cold pack, or if the pain isn’t too bad, get some exercise.
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