What is this horrible pain?
A shooting pain that runs from your lower back down your leg. Nothing you do seems to relieve it. It hurts to sit. It hurts to stand.
Chances are you are experiencing sciatica.
What is sciatica and what do you do about it? Are you stuck with this debilitating pain?
Find out here how to fix sciatica. In many cases, you can successfully treat sciatica at home. Sometimes you will need to see a specialist, read on to find out more.
What is Sciatica?
First of all, what is sciatica? As we've mentioned, the tell-tale sign is a sharp pain running from your lower back down your leg. It typically affects only one side of the body.
The pain varies from a mild annoyance to feeling like a strong electric shock. It usually gets worse when sitting or staying in one position for a long time. Sometimes it can be accompanied by numbness and/or muscle weakness. Patients with severe cases may even experience loss of bladder control.
Sciatica happens when something compresses the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower spine down your leg. This can be a herniated disk, bone spur, or another source of inflammation pressing on the nerve.
How To Fix Sciatica
Most cases of sciatica can be managed at home. Prevention is also possible by making a few changes to your routine. Let's take a look at what you can do.
As you gain weight, the risk of sciatica increases. Therefore, exercising to keep the weight off is one good way to prevent occurrences of sciatic pain.
Sciatica is also common in pregnant women because of the rapid weight gain and awkward placement of it. A pregnant woman can't lose the weight until after the baby is born.
However, exercise can still help by keeping the back and core muscles strong. As the muscles take the strain away from the skeleton and spine, sciatica problems lessen and may even disappear.
Gentle back stretches can also help with bouts of sciatica. This can help to loosen things up and reduce the inflammation that may be causing the pain.
Focus on maintaining good posture. Slumping over or sitting crooked puts undue pressure on your spine, worsening or causing sciatica. This is especially important when sitting, particularly if you work at a job that requires you to sit for a long time.
Choose a good, ergonomic chair that helps you to sit properly. It should allow you to sit with your knees and hips level, put the armrests at the right height, and have a base that swivels.
It should also provide good lumbar support for your lower back. You may need to add a small pillow or rolled up towel to ensure that you keep your spine curved correctly.
Learn to Move Correctly
There is a right way and a wrong way to move your body. If you constantly move your body in the wrong way, you're putting pressure on and straining areas of your body that weren't designed to handle it. Eventually, you will start to have painful problems, one of which could be sciatica.
To avoid this, learn and start using correct body mechanics. If you stand for long periods of time, find something to rest one foot on for a bit to take the pressure off your spine.
Squat down and use your legs, not your back, when lifting heavy objects and move straight up and down. Keep the weight close to your body and don't overextend yourself.
If these methods of prevention aren't quite enough, you may find relief with hot or cold packs. You can try applying either heat or cold for about 20 minutes every couple of hours.
Try both as people find one sometimes works better than the other for them. You can also try alternating between them.
If the pain is getting intense you can try taking an anti-inflammatory pain medication like ibuprofen. It won't necessarily make the underlying cause of the pain go away, but it can help manage the pain while you work on a solution.
If it keeps getting worse, it may be time to seek treatment from a good doctor. The doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants or even a narcotic. This is a short-term solution, however as you should not take these medications for more than two weeks.
Your doctor may also administer an epidural steroid injection directly into the affected area. This works better for some than for others but is mostly to control the pain while treating the underlying cause of sciatica.
Physical or Massage Therapy/Chiropractic Care/Acupuncture
For most people, sciatica clears up within a few weeks. Implementing some of the strategies we've already talked about can help speed recovery.
In some cases, however, more drastic measures are necessary. Physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and acupuncture can all be good options. Talk to your doctor to find out which method would be best for you to try first.
Surgery is a last resort as a sciatica treatment. It is only necessary in a handful of cases. It is something you should talk to your doctor about if you are experiencing loss of bladder control, severe numbness and/or chronic pain.
Relief is Possible
Don't worry if you've been wondering how to fix sciatica, relief is possible. Start by preparing yourself the right way. Exercise, maintain good posture and take care of your body. If that doesn't work for you, you can move up to medical and alternative treatments.
To learn more about spinal health and how to take care of yourself, be sure to visit our blog. We have tons of great resources and information to help you live a happy, pain-free life.