Sciatica and Tips for Dealing with the Pain
Do you feel like back pain is taking over your life? When the sciatica nerve flares, it can be difficult to get through the day.
Some people live with sciatic pain for years, making adjustments to their activities and lifestyle to cope with the discomfort. You’ve likely tried different types of treatments, including medication, steroid injections, and more – with varying results.
Don’t feel discouraged if you aren’t finding the relief that you desire. The good news is that our team of pain management doctors has a variety of solutions that can get to the root of your pain. Our goal is to alleviate the chronic pain and restore your life.
What is Sciatica?
“Sciatica” refers to the radiating pain that happens along the sciatic nerve. This nerve is located from the lower back, branching down into the buttocks and hips before continuing down the leg. If someone has sciatica, then it means that there is an injury affecting the sciatic nerve, causing pain and discomfort down the nerve pathway.
This condition usually happens when there is a physical condition that compresses the nerve. For example, a bone spur, herniated disk, or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine) puts pressure on the nerve. The result is local inflammation, ongoing pain, and even numbness that can move down the leg.
Symptoms of sciatica can include:
- Moderate to severe pain
- Pain located in the low back, buttock, and moving down the leg
- Weakness or numbness in the affected area
- Pain intensifies with movement
- A feeling of “pins and needles” in your legs, feet, or toes
- Loss of bladder or bowel control (in severe cases)
In most situations, sciatica only happens on one side of the body. For example, you might feel radiating pain and discomfort down the right side of your body, but the left side seems unaffected.
How Long Will Sciatica Last?
When your sciatic pain flares up, you are likely adjusting many of your activities because the pain makes it challenging to move, stand, or sit. Sciatic pain can be moderate or severe, depending on the cause of your pain and other lifestyle factors.
Most people who have chronic sciatic pain find that the symptoms come and go. For example, you might have a flare up that lasts for a few weeks, then a bit of relief as the symptoms subsides. Some people have ongoing pain that never seems to end.
If you are experiencing chronic back pain or sciatic issues, then it’s important to seek treatment to minimize permanent damage to the nerve.
Risk Factors for Sciatic Pain
Anyone can experience sciatic pain, especially after an accident or injury that affects the lower back. But there are certain factors that might increase your risk:
- Previous injuries to the lower back
- Excess body fat
- Weak core muscles
- Physical, active job requiring heavy lifting
- Poor posture when exercising
- Inactive lifestyle
- Smoking which damages spinal tissue
Just because you have these risk factors, doesn’t mean that you must live with sciatic pain forever. There are things that you can do to reduce your inflammation and protect the sciatic nerve.
Tips for Relieving Sciatic Pain
When your sciatic pain is flaring up, consider these tips to help you find relief.
- Nutritious Diet: Choose foods that provide the important vitamins, minerals, and building blocks that promote health. A well-balanced diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, nuts, and fiber. Also use anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as ginger, turmeric, and green tea. At the same time, stay away from inflammation-causing foods such as refined carbohydrates, sugar, and hydrogenated oils.
- Stop Smoking: Did you know that nicotine can take a toll on your spinal health? When you are smoking, it decreases anti-inflammatory reactions in the body. Smoking can increase systemic inflammation and lead to a variety of chronic health issues, including sciatica.
- Massage Therapy: Maintain a healthy spine by using massage to relax the muscles. Professional massage therapy is beneficial for restoring the range of motion in your spine and improving flexibility. Knead out the trigger points and knots that are causing tension in the muscles.
- Stretching: It only takes 10 minutes a day to loosen the muscles and support your spinal health. Stretching is important to maintain flexibility in the back, hips, and buttocks. Talk to your doctor about specific stretches for your condition. Be gentle and intuitive about the stretches – you shouldn’t be pushing through pain. Instead, work with your body to reduce tension in the muscles. Stretching is most effective when you are consistent with this practice over time.
- Strength Training: Strengthen your core and muscles using weight training and other exercises. This process of contracting the muscles and promoting growth helps to stabilize your body and reduce unwanted pressure on the nerves and joints. If you don’t have experience with strength training, then it can be helpful to talk to a physical therapist, pain management specialist, or fitness trainer.
- Consider Your Posture: How is your body positioned throughout the day? If you are sitting for prolonged periods, it can place unnecessary pressure on the ligaments and disks in the lower back. Many people need to be at the computer all day for work. Try using a standing desk to adjust your position throughout the day. Also, be proactive about taking frequent breaks to stretch and walk around.
- Pain Management Treatments: When the pain doesn’t go away, then it might be time to talk to a pain management doctor. Reach out to our team to learn more about available treatments. We’ll help you design the ideal treatment plan to address your unique needs.
These recommendations are also helpful for prevention. Don’t wait until your back starts hurting again! If you know that you are prone to chronic back pain and sciatic issues, then be proactive about caring for your back to prevent issues in the future.
Pain Management to Relieve Sciatic Issues
Our team of pain management doctors is here to help if you are looking for solutions to reduce sciatic issues, back pain, and other types of chronic pain. Reach out to us at Texas Partners Healthcare Group to discuss potential treatments that fit your lifestyle.