The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, extending from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks, and down each leg. Occasionally the roots can become irritated, which then causes sciatica. This irritation can be caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back (lumbar spinal stenosis), a herniated disc, an overgrowth of bone on the spine (bone spur), a breakdown of the cushiony discs between the vertebrae (degenerative disc disease), or a slipped disc (spondylolisthesis).
Regardless of the cause, the result is compression of the sciatic nerve, which then causes inflammation, pain, and usually some numbness in the affected leg. In extreme cases, symptoms can also include muscle weakness and difficulty controlling the bowel and bladder. There is a greater chance of experiencing sciatica if you’re older, have diabetes, have a sedentary lifestyle, are obese, or frequently lift heavy objects.
So, now that we know what sciatica is, let’s answer the most important question:
How do you find sciatic nerve pain relief?
- Stretch - Stretching is a great way to relieve nerve root compression, which will result in sciatic nerve pain relief. Focus on stretching your lower back, and avoid any sudden jerking, twisting, or bobbing. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
- Cool off - Applying ice packs during the first signs of sciatica could bring some relief. Place the ice pack (or frozen peas wrapped in a towel) at the site where you’re experiencing pain, and keep it there for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. This can decrease the inflammation that is associated with sciatic nerve pain, while also numbing the area that the pain is radiating from.
- Heat things up - After a few days, apply heat to the painful areas. You could use a heating pad or a hot pack. Heat increases blood flow to an area, allowing the body to carry the nutrients and oxygen that can assist in healing. Heat also stimulates the sensory receptors, taking your brain’s focus off the sciatic pain for a little bit. Alternating between an ice pack and heating pad can be an effective way to find sciatic nerve pain relief.
- Visit a chiropractor - Chiropractors can perform a spinal adjustment to restore spinal movement, improve function, and decrease pain.
- See a physical therapist - Though certain activities can become increasingly more difficult with sciatica, bed rest is not recommended. A physical therapist can show you appropriate exercises for not only reducing sciatic pain, but also for conditioning your body so that you don’t experience sciatica again.
Make an appointment with Envista Medical Neck & Back Center!
Our clinic offers all the resources you’ll need to find sciatic nerve pain relief. Our treatment options include: physiotherapy, spinal decompression, and chiropractic care. Call us today to make an appointment with a sciatic nerve pain specialist.