How to Find Sciatica Relief – It’s Less Painful than You’d Think
When I began working long hours from my home office, the improper height of the chair I was using at my desk caused a tingling in the back of my leg. Sitting down made the pain worse. Within a couple of weeks, I developed a sharp pain in my lower spine whenever I sat or stood up too quickly. Finally, unable to take the pain any longer, I visited my family doctor who diagnosed me with sciatic nerve damage.
The term sciatica refers to any in a set of symptoms resulting from compressed or irritated sciatic nerves, which are the largest nerves in the body, starting at lumbar segment 3 in the lower back, also called the L3, and running down the back of either leg. In addition to the symptoms I was feeling, other sufferers complained of numbness, weakness, and foot pain as well.
My doctor explained that it was not one single incident that caused the damage, but rather many months of bad habits. Others may find that their own sciatic nerves have somehow been pinched, which causes debilitating pain. Anyone who has ever suffered from sciatica can tell you that when the great theologian Saint Augustine once wrote that, “The greatest evil is physical pain,” that he knew exactly what he was talking about.
Treatment for Relieving Sciatic Pain
There is a wide range of treatments for relieving pain associated with the sciatic nerve. Some are combined to provide even more benefits. Here are some things your doctor may suggest you do to relieve sciatic pain.
- Fire and Ice – As a firefighter, my husband keeps an impressive first aid kit in our home, including packs for heat and cold therapy for muscle and nerve pain. My chiropractor suggested I alternate the two, starting with the one of my choice for 20 minutes and then repeating the process with the other a couple of hours later.
- Medication – Doctors sometimes prescribe drugs to help with sciatica, but over the counter medicines like anti-inflammatory and non-steroidal products can also reduce the inflammation that contributes to the pain associated with the condition.
- Steriod Injections – Unless you’re a professional athlete banned from taking these anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections can provide a welcome if not brief respite from acute sciatica.
- Weight Loss – If you’re overweight, then losing a few extra pounds certainly won’t make the problem any worse. Consult your family physician about starting some form of weight loss treatment like the Atkins diet plan or another similar program that encourages a change in lifestyle instead of a fad diet.
Of course, you should never begin a pain relief regime without consulting a medical professional, like your family doctor or chiropractor. This includes introducing your body to any kind of weight loss program, such as starting the Atkins diet. Using the wrong treatment can be just as if not more damaging than letting the condition go untreated altogether. In some extreme cases, surgery is needed to repair the damage.
Alternate Treatments for Sciatica
In some cases of sciatic nerve damage, none of the above remedies work and other treatment is necessary. One chiropractic and massage center in Vancouver, Canada suggests a series of intense massage therapy sessions and spinal alignment, both of which take place in a chiropractor’s office. Along with bulging discs, lower back pain, migraines, neck pain, and scoliosis, sciatica is one of the top treatable conditions that are referred to a chiropractor’s office.
The important thing to remember is that no two cases of sciatica are exactly alike. Because of this, each one must be treated on an individual basis. Depending on the cause, sciatica can last just a few weeks or several months, or even longer. Some treatment may even outlast the initial pain depending on the preventative care outlined by the physician.
However, regardless of the treatment prescribed, diet and exercise will play a big part in relieving sciatica pain. Some people mistakenly assume bed rest is the best course of action for back pain and for the first day or so it’s not a bad idea. But without regular exercise, the lower back muscles become weak and unable to support the spine. Proper diet gives your body the nutrients it needs for healthy bones and muscles, which is important in helping to prevent future injuries.
About the Author
When freelance author Becky James-Muth was faced with back pain she used her skills as an internet researcher to compile a list of questions to ask her chiropractor. Together they worked to develop a plan to combat the pain using medication as a last resort. When she isn’t sitting at her desk, Becky prefers being outdoors with her family, whether it’s taking a walk to look for treasures along coastal beaches or bird watching at a nearby mountain lake. In her free time she enjoys listening to music, experimenting with new recipes, and knitting.