Sciatica pain refers to a type of pain that develops when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed. The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back and branches out into your hips, buttocks, and down the legs. Sciatica pain may range from a mild ache to disabling pain that weakens the leg. If left untreated, sciatica can impair bowel and bladder functions and decrease quality of life.
Sciatica may develop as a symptom of a spinal condition, like a herniated disc, bone spur, or spinal stenosis. In rare cases, the sciatic nerve can become compressed by a tumor or damaged by diabetes. If you’re experiencing sciatica symptoms, here are some fixes for pain relief.
Try Hot/Cold Therapies
If you feel sciatica symptoms coming on, cold and heat packs might be able to help. Apply a cold compress on the painful area for up to 20 minutes several times a day, with 15-minute breaks. Make sure to wrap the ice in a towel or cloth to avoid frostbite.
After two or three days of cold application, use a hot compress for about the same interval. Heat can promote blood flow and release muscle tension, relieving painful symptoms. If you continue to experience low back pain, try alternating warm and cold packs until you find something that works for you.
If you have sciatic pain, you might think that it’s okay to rest and give your body a break. However, prolonged inactivity might make your symptoms worse. It’s vital and beneficial to your health to keep your body moving. After a few days of bed rest, try low-impact activities like walking and swimming. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which function as your body’s natural painkillers.
In addition to aerobic exercises, consider adding core strengthening exercises targeting your lower back and abdomen to your workout. A strong core can provide better support for the structures around your spine and reduce pressure on weakened areas. If you want detailed exercise advice, consult with your orthopedic doctor.
Regular exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight tends to put significant strain on the spine and is associated with bodily inflammation and pain.
Maintain Good Posture
Maintaining good posture can help prevent or reduce the severity of sciatica symptoms. Pain or stiffness is usually a warning sign of improper body alignment. Improper body posture can increase the strain on your spine.
Make sure to follow good posture techniques while sitting, standing, and lifting objects. At work, try to stand up and take movement breaks every 20 minutes or so. It helps to use ergonomic chairs and tables — it’s not a furniture expense, it’s an investment in your health.
Visit Your Orthopedic Doctor
While self-care methods can provide some level of pain relief, they might not work all the time, especially in severe cases. If you don’t respond to conservative treatments, consider visiting your healthcare provider.
Your orthopedic doctor will start by reviewing your medical history and performing a physical exam. They may order some imaging tests to identify the condition that may be causing your pain. Depending on their diagnosis, they will craft a personalized treatment plan. Sciatica treatment focuses on controlling symptoms.
For severe cases of sciatica that don’t respond to non-surgical treatments, your orthopedic doctor may recommend surgery. The type of surgery will depend on the underlying condition causing sciatica and your overall health.
Physical therapy is a potent tool to use for rehabilitation from sciatica. Your physical therapist can design an exercise program that you can safely perform at home. They will consider your injury and typical daily activity level when designing the workout plan. In addition to exercise, your provider may use some of the following techniques:
- Core stability training
- Dry needling
- Joint mobilization
- Myofascial release
- Neuromuscular re-education
- Postural education
- Pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation
- Manual and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization
- Sports injury rehabilitation
- Vasopneumatic compression
Sciatica Treatment In Central Maryland
If you’re planning to explore treatment options for sciatica pain, look no further than the Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland. Our highly skilled specialists can perform a thorough examination and craft an appropriate treatment plan. Should you need surgery, you can rest easy in the hands of our board-certified orthopedic surgeons.
Do you need to schedule a consultation with our providers? Call us today at (410) 644-1880 or fill out our online appointment request form. You can visit our physicians at Catonsville, Columbia, Eldersburg, or Fulton or drop by one of our dedicated physical therapy clinics in Ellicott City or Jessup. Give us a call today, and let us help you find long-lasting pain relief!