Did you know the sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body? It is estimated that 40% of the world population will experience sciatica pain at some point in their life. Relief and healing can result from exercise, rest, and conservative treatment methods; however, in many cases, it never completely goes away and can linger sporadically for months and years.
What is Sciatica Pain?
From either side of the spine, the sciatic nerve travels through the pelvis and buttocks and on down through the leg. Sciatica can be caused by narrowing of the lower back’s spinal canal (lumbar spinal stenosis) and the breakdown of discs which are the “cushions” between the bones in the vertebrae. It can also stem from muscle spasms in the back or buttocks often as a result of lifting, straining, or spending extensive hours sitting and driving on a regular basis. These discs can slip or become herniated within the vertebrae thus causing stiffness, numbness, tingling, tightness, and discomfort.
As many know, it can lead to an excruciating, shooting pain in the lower back, buttocks, or down through your leg? Oftentimes, it is an inevitable consequence during and following a woman’s pregnancy. Sciatica pain symptoms might also arise from lack of exercise, being overweight, sleeping on too hard or too soft mattresses, and wear and tear from frequently walking with high heels.
Sciatica Pain Relief Tips
When seeking tips to manage sciatica pain, several methods have proven to relieve aches and prevent future physical ailment. First and foremost, one quick fix remedy might be to apply heat or ice on and around the pain points. This can prove to be a cost-effective on demand first option of treatment. Another daily ritual could incorporate proper stretching, exercise, and low-impact aerobic techniques to keep the muscles loose and reduces pressure on the sciatic nerve. More popular around the world than ever before, treatments for physical pain and sciatica have worked with yoga, pilates, acupuncture, and massage – all methods that keep the muscles fluid and tender which combats the back, leg, and sciatica pain.
For best results, it is essential to identify the pain location and pinpoint which muscles need attention. Exercise that builds strength in the abdomen and back ultimately support the spine. Sciatica pain can be eased by concentrated leg lifts and extensions. For example, one should lift the left leg, place the right ankle over your left knee, and hold the position for thirty to sixty seconds – don’t forget to breathe and relax. Then repeat the same exercise with the other leg.
This particular exercise addresses the piriformis muscle in the buttocks, which may be inflamed and pressing against the sciatic nerve. Discs in the vertebrae are fragile and often compromised resulting in sciatic pain. When these discs become herniated or bulge from its intended position, the pain can be an unbearable nuisance. Doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists recommend applying a variety of stretches ranging from chest to knee, knee to shoulder, standing hamstring chest, and stretches elongating hip flexors and the spine.
Physical activity is the healthiest approach that can alleviate pain symptoms, build toward long term relief, and avoid taking any medication. Even a daily walk through the neighborhood gets the blood flowing and can make a world of difference in one’s day to day comfort level. Back pain will also lessen with consistent, proper posture while sitting, standing, and even sleeping.
Putting the body in motion reduces inflammation, keeps the muscles loose, and can restrict the dreaded feelings of shooting pain and stiffness. One should always be conscious and focused on keeping back, leg, and hip muscles as fluid and flexible as possible. As life requires on-the-go efficiency and often physical labor and movement, it’s important to be aware of the twists and turns and straining and lifting motion that can inflict pain.
It is recommended and often beneficial to visit a doctor who can offer some peace of mind and clear up any questions while performing multiple back and leg stretches that can address and alleviate sciatica pain. These medical experts might also recommend pain relievers, whether Over the Counter or by prescription. Taking pain medication can often be a surefire remedy to milder discomfort, known as acute sciatica, which typically subsides within four to eight weeks. Accessible pain relievers like Advil and Motrin are worthy first attempts to reduce pain symptoms.
In the event the pain is more severe and agonizing, prescription medications such as muscle relaxants and painkillers might be an alternative and more effective method. Sometimes, epidural steroid injections can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation around the sciatic nerve. In extreme cases, surgery might be required as a last resort to eradicate sciatica and back pain caused by herniated discs and ailments on and around the spine.
As individuals age, the body endures wear and tear and is often more susceptible to aches and pains, kinks and stiffness. When people are in tune with their own body and soul, a healthier lifestyle can prevail. Today’s society is fast-paced and full of pressure, so disconnecting from the daily stress can be a positive first step in alleviating sciatica pain. Breathing exercises, a daily stretching routine, and a clear and organized mindset help influence a work – life balance that keeps one productive at work and content with a social life and family environment free of pain and full of optimism, happiness, and overall well-being.