Sciatica pain is a pain experienced along the path of the sciatica nerve, which runs on both sides of the body. The sciatica nerve passes through the hips, buttocks, and along each leg and ends immediately below the knee.
Sciatica pain occurs when the nerve root is subject to inflammation, irritation, compression, or pinching. The pain typically affects only one side of the body.
Any pressure or trauma to the sciatica nerve can cause pain. A slipped or herniated (bulged) disc is one common reason for sciatica pain. Other reasons include lower back injuries, stress, obesity, pregnancy, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and poor body postures.
Medical conditions such as Piriformis Syndrome, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, osteoarthritis, and diabetes, can also cause sciatica nerve pain.
Patients describe sciatica pain as a sharp piercing or burning pain. In most cases, the pain subsides on its own after a week or two. The sciatica pain, in such cases, is called acute sciatica. Chronic sciatica happens when pain occurs and keeps recurring frequently.
Chronic sciatica exists for life. Consulting our spine and pain specialist should be the first step toward managing your sciatica pain. You can also follow some effective lifestyle remedies for relief.
Aerobic exercises and gentle stretches offer relief. Low-impact exercises such as walking and swimming are best. Exercises that work your core muscles – the abdomen and lower back muscles – strengthen these regions, which can offer relief.
Some simple exercises that can be effective for sciatica pain include:
Piriformis and gluteal muscles can inflame and compress the sciatic nerve by pressing against it. This simple stretch offers relief by loosening the piriformis and gluteal muscles.
This stretch addresses sciatica pain by loosening the hamstring muscles.
This pose stretches the gluteus, the large buttock muscle, to offer sciatica pain relief.
These are some common exercises for sciatica pain relief. You may want to ask your doctor about physical therapy. Our spine and pain specialist identifies physical movements that reduce pressure on your sciatica nerve and offer relief. With physical therapy, you can follow a customized exercise plan that offers the best relief from chronic sciatica pain.
Biofeedback is a painless sciatic nerve pain treatment that helps patients control internal body aspects that are causing sciatica pain. For example, say your spine and pain specialist diagnoses that your sciatica pain is being caused by muscle pressure in the lower back.
The Biofeedback method can be used to measure the stress in this muscle and train your mind to lower the tension to appropriate levels. One of the stress-relief techniques used in the Biofeedback method is to turn your focus away from the pain symptoms.
A sensor-based device is used to measure and monitor the internal factors causing the pain. The practitioner teaches you to control the factor with the equipment during the initial stages. With training and practice, you can start managing your symptoms without the aid of equipment.
Biofeedback can be used to measure and manage other internal factors such as heart rate and blood pressure that may be causing your chronic sciatica pain.
Start with ice packs. You can wrap a clean cloth around frozen vegetables and apply it to the painful area. Apply the pack for 20 minutes frequently during the day.
Apply a hot pack several days after the ice pack application. Apply hot packs for 20 minutes at a stretch. Switch between hot and ice packs for prolonged pain relief. If you feel relief with a specific pack alone, then stick to it for maximum effect.
NSAIDs or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs can offer relief from sciatica pain and swelling. Consult your doctor before taking these medicines as some of them may cause bleeding and ulcers in some people.
Your physician may recommend muscle relaxers if you are experiencing muscle spams as well. Your doctor may also prescribe anti-seizure medicines and antidepressants, depending on the severity of your pain.
Ask your healthcare provider about the efficacy of spinal injections for your condition. Spinal injections are anti-inflammatory medicines that are injected into the lower back region. This medicine may work on the affected nerve root to reduce pain and inflammation.
Pain relief with spinal injections is temporary. It usually lasts for 3 months. You may have to take more injections for ongoing pain relief. Talk to our spine and pain specialist to know about the number of injections you may have to take to experience lasting relief.
Stress can worsen your sciatica pain. Engaging in an activity you love removes your focus from your chronic sciatica pain and improves your mood. You may want to indulge in lighter hobbies, though.
Walking to your local library and spending time with a good book, talking to a best friend, and meeting people on a stroll to the local park, and other low-impact endeavors are some activities you could try.
Surgery is considered only under the following conditions:
Surgery is recommended in such cases to free the sciatica nerve from the pressure causing the pain.
The surgery also ensures that the spine is stable. Surgeries recommended as sciatic nerve pain treatment include Microdiscectomy and Laminectomy.
Your doctor may refer you to a licensed chiropractor for a spine manipulation procedure to ease sciatica pain. Acupuncture, yoga, and massage may also provide relief.
In most cases, sciatica can be cured with non-surgical options. Invest in healthy self-care. Talk to our spine and pain specialist for the right guidance.