With as many as 4 out of 10 people experiencing sciatic nerve pain sometime in their lifetime, sciatica is a big deal. This pain can be disabling, exhausting, and aggravating. Quite simply, sciatica is the irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve, and the spinal nerve roots that feed into it. The sciatic nerve runs down the spine and branches into the legs. Sciatic nerve pain is a broad category, and there are a vast number of causes ranging from bulging discs, to osteoarthritis. Fortunately, just as there are many things that can contribute to this condition, there are also many things that can work with your pain management program. We’ve compiled a list of what you can start doing to treat your pain.
Sciatic Nerve Pain Tip #1: Apply Alternating Heat and Cold Therapy
Alternating heat and cold is a tried and true application for treating many types of pain and inflammation, and sciatica is no different. The sciatic nerve is deep within the tissue of the leg and butt, so the heat or cold may not reach the nerve itself, but they act in ways that help deal with some contributing factors. Applying cold to the painful area acts as an anti-inflammatory to the immediate area. Following it up with heat (preferably moist heat, try a hydro collator) can help soothe and relax tight muscles affected by sciatica while promoting blood flow to muscles and nerves.
Tip #2: Exercise
Staying active is much better than bed rest for dealing with back pain. Exercise is great because it offers so many different benefits. Although it may seem that rest is best, if inactivity is sustained for too long, the muscles that support the back become de-conditioned and weak, leading to more pain and making you more vulnerable to injury. It also increases blood flow to the discs and nerves, which helps to rid the area of the chemicals that induce inflammation. Finally, continued active movement promotes exchange of fluid and nutrients essential for disc health. Yoga is highly recommended for sciatic nerve pain.
Stretching is wildly helpful, and should be done every day especially for sciatica treatment. Stretching helps release tightness and promote loosening and relaxation in the muscles. Not only will stretching assist with lessening current pain, it will also prevent further pain. Other benefits include enhancing flexibility, improving core strength, and supporting lower back support. Specific regimens are used for specific types of sciatic nerve pain, but stretches that target the hamstrings or externally rotates the hip can benefit everyone. (Try a hamstring stretch or a figure 4 stretch)
#4: Correct Your Posture
Incorrect posture is quite common, with the worst offenders being walking posture, and sitting posture. When you hold your body the wrong way, alignment gets thrown off and muscles are improperly used. Any number of things can impinge on the nerve and can place our muscles into spasm, which further exacerbates the problem.Many people tuck their pelvis in and under when walking and standing, to correct this, keep the thighs back and the buttocks extended out a bit. Other things you can address to correct your posture and better support your back is to wear the correct shoes, and find changing your sleeping posture, on the side and knees bent.
#5: See a Chiropractor
The singular most important thing anyone can do to treat sciatic nerve pain is to see a chiropractor. Chiropractic care creates a state of optimal spinal alignment, and takes the pressure off of the nerve roots. It decreases inflammation and irritation of the nerves, as well as relaxing tightened muscles. Chiropractic can also treat many of the underlying issues that are causing sciatica while restoring blood flow and unlocking the body’s full potential to heal itself. Continuing to see a chiropractor can fix gait and posture problems that may be adding to your pain.
Stamp Out Sciatic Nerve Pain at Arrowhead Health Centers
If you’ve ever experienced shooting pain from the hip, down the leg, even into the toes (or if you have numbness or tingling in your leg), chances are that you’ve faced sciatic nerve pain yourself. Dealing with it can be draining and difficult, but the changes we’ve outlined can help. Arrowhead Health Centers is a leader in Arizona chiropractic, and we have the physical rehab professionals available to help you with stretches and an individualized exercise regimen. If your pain persists or worsens, call us at (623) 777-5587.