Sciatica pain is caused by pinching, inflammation, irritation or compression of a nerve in the lower back. The most common cause? A herniated or slipped disk that puts pressure on the nerve root. Most people will get better over time with simple self-care, but sometimes further treatment is required.
Sciatica is a type of nerve pain that arises from an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve, the longest and thickest nerve in the body. When this nerve is pinched or damaged in some way, it can be very painful to sit, stand or do much of anything else. It’s a fairly common condition, affecting an estimated 40% of people in the U.S.
Let’s explore the most effective pain relief for sciatica.
Pain Relief Measures
You can try a few home remedies to alleviate pain first, such as low back conditioning and stretching exercises. You can also alternate between ice packs and heat pads to ease the pain so you can function better. Movement is the best way to alleviate sciatic pain, from gentle exercises to massage. You can also take OTC pain medications to relieve swelling and pain.
If that does not work, there are other treatments you can try under the direction of a doctor or back pain specialist.
- Cortisone medications, given orally or by local injection (epidural injection).
- Prescription medications, including pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants (which can help reduce pain perception in the brain).
- Physical therapy, including stretching exercise to improve muscle flexibility as well as aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, water aerobics).
- Alternative therapies including spine manipulation by a licensed chiropractor, as well as yoga or acupuncture.
- Non-surgical procedures relying on state-of-the-art minimally invasive techniques to improve quality of life and restore function.
- Surgery to relieve nerve compression at the lower spine. This is a last resort when all of the above have not proven effective.
While many sources of sciatica are not preventable, you can take some steps to protect your back while reducing your risk:
- Be mindful of maintaining good posture while sitting, standing, lifting objects and sleeping. Good posture relieves pressure on your lower back, and if you’re not properly aligned, pain is often the first warning sign.
- Don’t smoke, as nicotine restricts blood supply to bones, weakening the spine and the vertebral disks.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight and having a poor diet are linked to inflammation and pain.
- Exercise regularly to keep your joints flexible and to strengthen your core, which in turn helps support your spine. It’s best to stick with low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, yoga or tai chi.
- Remove trip hazards: Wear supportive footwear, keep walkways free of obstacles, keep rooms well-lit, and install grab bars in bathrooms and rails on stairways.
Contact Summit Spine & Joint Centers for Sciatica Relief
If you need more effective pain relief from sciatica, we have focused treatments that can help you. Here at Summit Spine & Joint Centers, we pride ourselves on our experience, expertise, bedside manner and expertise in Interventional Pain Management. Book your consultation today at 770-962-3642.