Ailments & Treatments
Sciatica and How to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain20 Jan, 2022
What is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to pain affecting the sciatic nerve usually because the nerve has been irritated or compressed. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body and extends from your lower back and branches through your hips, buttocks and down the back of each leg.
What triggers sciatica?
- Sitting too much
- Being overweight
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes or clothing
- Bad posture
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Herniated Disc
- Bone Spur
- Nerve impingement
What does sciatic pain feel like?
The symptoms of sciatica may range from infrequent and irritating to severe and debilitating pain. Sciatic pain can feel like constant burning, numbness, or sharp pain shooting down the front or back of the thigh and leg and/or feet.
Other sensations caused by sciatica includes weakness, tingling, a feeling of heaviness when lifting the leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body.
Sciatica pain may feel worse while sitting, trying to stand up, standing for a long time, bending the spine forward, twisting the spine, lying down, and/or while coughing.
How long does sciatic pain last?
When the sciatica nerve is irritated or compressed, it can take up to 4 to 6 weeks to get better.
What can make sciatic pain worse?
Putting pressure on the sciatic nerve when it is flared up can worsen sciatica symptoms. This includes sitting too much, wearing uncomfortable footwear or too tight pants, sleeping in a wrong position, and being inactive.
Sitting for prolonged period is not recommended at this causes increased pressure and compression on the sciatica nerve.
How best to relieve sciatica?
- Apply 15 minutes of heat therapy once 2 to 3 hours, and in between follow it up with 15 minutes of ice therapy to provide immediate relief of sciatic nerve pain. The ice helps to decrease inflammation, while heat increases blood circulation to help with healing.
- Mild and simple stretching can help alleviate sciatic pain. Stretching also helps to increase mobility and flexibility, as well as building up core and spinal strength, all of which are good in prevention of sciatica.
- Massage, particularly Thai Massage, is excellent in therapeutic treatment for sciatica. Not only does the massage help to loosen up the muscles, but the stretching component of Thai Massage helps to increase flexibility and mobility around the sciatic nerve areas.
- While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise is more effective in relieving sciatica pain than bed rest. So incorporate gentle daily exercise to help ease sciatic pain. Exercise should not be intense, painful, or strenuous, but gentle. Walking is not only effective to help with back pain, but it is also a very effective physical activity that helps to relieve sciatic tension.
Sciatica can be prevented by:
- Keeping active and non-sedentary
- Maintaining good posture and spinal alignment
- Managing a healthy weight
- Increasing hamstring flexibility
- Strengthening the muscles in your abdomen and back
- Keeping muscles and joints limber in the back, hip and legs via stretching, massage, acupuncture, etc.