Back pain and discomfort come in different forms, but sciatica is one of the most common.
Sciatica is not a condition. This is a term used to define pain in the sciatic nerve – this is a nerve that runs down both sides of your lower spine, goes through the pelvis, then down the back of the leg, and then to the feet. The pain happens when the nerve is irritated by pressure. This causes pain in the thigh, buttock, thigh, or lower leg.
Some people describe this pain as achy or mild, while some say they get a sharp pain and a burning sensation. Other indicators of sciatica are tingling, numbness, and weakness in your leg.
Research has estimated that as high as 40% of people are going to experience irritation of the sciatic nerve or sciatica. The risk goes up with age. People spending long periods sitting or straining their back by twisting or lifting may experience sciatica. There are other conditions that can factor into sciatica, including lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and spondylolisthesis.
There are also pregnant women who experience sciatica.
What options do you have if you have this back discomfort? Below are eight tips that will go a long way in helping you with sciatica relief.
Consulting a PT Professional Who Has Specialized in Sciatica Relief
It Can be a brief flare-up and can be easily treated with ice, rest, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen. For many people, the condition is prolonged and you may need to get help to find relief. You need to see a professional to ensure the pain that you have is from sciatica. This is important because it will determine the best treatment approach to be used.
A physical therapy team at a hospital is going to help you find relief from the pain. In some cases, making some changes to your lifestyle and target stretches can do wonders when it comes to alleviating nerve pain. Talk to a physical therapy expert to get a consultation. You shouldn’t power through or ignore sciatica.
Focusing on Fitness
Just like with any injury or irritation, prevention is better than cure. There are some preventative steps you can take to make sure the problem doesn’t come again. One of the things you can change that is going to have a big impact is to get and stay fit.
Exercising regularly and keeping an eye on your weight is going to help in fighting the discomfort. You are going to get a lot of benefits by just walking for 15-30 minutes a day. You will see a difference in your hips, back, legs, and overall health. A study done in Finland found out that people who biked or walked to work reduced hospitalization incidence for sciatica by 33%.
A licensed physical therapist is going to recommend specific and custom stretches to help with sciatica pain. You should be working with a professional who has a good understanding of your health concerns and limitations.
People suffering from sciatica report relief after doing gentle stretches and sciatica exercises. You shouldn’t force the bounce, stretch, jerk, or twist as you focus on dealing with the tension and pain in your hips and lower back.
Lifting with Your Legs
Straining and lifting can make sciatica worse. You should pay close attention to how you are lifting and using proper form. The bulk of the efforts should be in the legs. You should bend using your hips and knees instead of your waist.
If your work involves a lot of lifting, then consider a lumbar support or lifting belt to protect your back. Always follow workplace guidelines and best practices. You shouldn’t risk your back trying to lift something heavy on your own instead of getting help.
Choosing Practical Footwear
If you choose fashion over comfort, then you need to rethink your choices, especially when suffering from sciatica. It is good to wear practical, comfortable footwear, but doctors suggest that wearing the right shoes is very important for those suffering from back pain and that there is a link between sciatica and the feet.
You should get shoes that provide support for the foot and ankle with plenty of comfort and cushion. If you have to spend a lot of time on your feet at work, or you want to take a short walk during the lunch break, then make sure you get comfortable shoes.
Standing Up at Work
Those suffering from sciatica say that they sitting down for long increases discomfort and pain. Even when using an ergonomic office chair, you can still experience discomfort in the sciatic nerve, which can worsen the pain.
You can invest in a standing desk or incorporate short standing breaks and breaks into your day. You should listen to your body when suffering from sciatica – if your pain is relieved by standing, then look for opportunities to stand up.
Checking Out Your Mattress
Your mattress can contribute to your condition, just like with your office chair. If the bed is worn down, older, too firm, or too soft for your preference, it may be time to update.
Although there haven’t been studies on the effect of mattresses on back pain, there are some surveys done that involved Orthopaedic Surgeons that show 95% of them believed that the mattress you sleep on can affect your back pain. Sleeping in a comfortable bed promotes good sleep, which helps with overall well-being and health.
When you start working with a physical therapist to help with spinal health, a yoga practice can help you remain pain-free. Many people have found that doing supportive exercises such as yoga helps with discomfort and pain.
Before you start an exercise regimen, make sure you talk to and follow the advice of a medical practitioner or physical therapist. They help in determining when to start the exercise to avoid any serious problems. When you have flare-ups as a result of sciatica, you can still incorporate movement into your day-to-day life. It can even give you some relief.
The good thing is sciatica is going to go after a couple of weeks. Most people suffering usually get well after 6-12 weeks. It is never a good idea to push through the pain. Work with an expert to find the best treatment approach. In most cases, physical therapy is going to address the pain without having to go through advanced procedures like surgery or other medical intervention.