Sciatica is a common condition causing pain, numbness and tingling sensations. It’s a form of nerve pain stemming from the compression of the sciatic nerve. You may hear sciatica referred to as lumbar pain or lumbar radiculopathy. Learn how to identify sciatica and how to relieve sciatica pain with simple practices and stretches.
Sciatic pain is a familiar sensation for many — up to 40% of people experience it at some time in their life, and frequency increases with age. It differs from other types of back pain in that it often feels like burning, tingling or numbness, low in the back and down the backs of the legs. It might feel like a shooting pain from deep in the buttocks downward. Some patients describe a dull, constant ache rather than a sharp, shooting pain.
The sensations can manifest down the legs because the sciatic nerve travels from the lower back down to the toes. In most cases, sciatic pain occurs on only one side of the body. It happens when any of the nerve roots that exit from your lower spine become irritated or pinched. Many different scenarios can result in sciatic pain.
Nutrition plays a significant role in pain prevention and relief. Maintaining a healthy weight might prevent sciatic issues, and eating anti-inflammatory foods can reduce pain. Some foods you can eat to target inflammation include:
Hot or cold compresses can also help relieve sciatic pain. Use a cold compress to address inflammation, and use a heating pad to encourage blood flow and soothe muscle tension. You can also swim in a pool for a cool sensation or take a bath for warmth.
Many patients find a physical therapy program effective for sciatica pain relief. A physical therapist will guide you through specific movements meant to centralize the pain and strengthen the related muscles.
If severe pain or disability makes it challenging to exercise on a hard surface, you might also benefit from water therapy. Water’s buoyancy will support your joints, helping improve your range of motion.
For sciatic pain relief at home, you can also take over-the-counter pain medication. Be sure not to exceed the recommended dosage. If over-the-counter medication proves ineffective, you can talk with your doctor about prescription pain relievers. Your doctor might prescribe a muscle relaxer or higher-strength pain killer.
Proper posture will support your back tissue, minimizing sciatic pain and other forms of back pain. Try to pay attention to your body’s position throughout the day. Use the following tips to help you correct your posture.
Movement throughout the day is vital for your health. Try to avoid sitting for long periods and incorporate aerobic exercise into your daily routine. Sciatica treatment at home should include gentle exercises, like walking, stretching or swimming.
Simple stretches and movements can strengthen your back and core muscles, promoting stability and balance and helping reduce pain. As you stretch, remember to continue breathing deeply rather than holding your breath. Try these beginner-friendly stretches for sciatic nerve pain.
For this stretch, you’ll need to follow these steps:
Since static pain can travel down the legs, hamstring stretches are also beneficial. All you need to do is:
Cat and cow poses can also help relieve pain.
To do a spinal twist, you’ll need to lie down on your back with your arms extended outward, palms up. You’ll then:
Pigeon poses are also helpful for relieving stiffness in the hips. You can choose between lying or standing variations, depending on whichever works better for you.
For a lying pigeon pose:
To do a pigeon pose while sitting up, you’ll start in a downward dog pose and step one leg up toward your hands, putting your shin perpendicular to your opposite leg. With your other leg extended behind you, you can sit in this pose for as long as you like.
Sciatic nerve pain can manifest itself in various ways, causing discomfort in the lower back and down the legs. Many people experience sciatica at some point in their lives. Thankfully, you can take plenty of simple measures in your daily life to lessen your sciatica pain, including lifestyle changes.
Relieving sciatica pain at home may only be possible for mild cases. If your sciatic pain is worsening or disruptive, you may need further treatment. At the Desert Institute for Spine Care, we can determine the best minimally invasive treatment option for you. We strive to provide our patients with outstanding and compassionate care, using innovative and effective treatment methods. If you’re experiencing sciatic nerve pain, schedule an appointment with us.