Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body and can cause a lot of pain when it gets compressed. Not only can you feel pain in your lower back, but the symptoms often travel down one of your legs, making the problem not so local.
At Summit Pain Alliance, our team of expert pain management specialists believes that there’s much you can do on your own to relieve sciatica pain so that you can avoid risky medications and surgery. Of course, should your pain persist, we're here to help.
Here, we explore six effective treatment options for sciatica, starting with those you can do on your own.
1. Hot and cold therapies
If sciatica strikes, a great technique for relieving your symptoms is beginning hot and cold therapies at the first signs of pain.
First, apply an ice pack to your lower back. That constricts your blood vessels to relieve your pain. In fact, ice packs are a great way to avoid using medications altogether, thanks to their numbing and anti-inflammatory effects. Apply them three times a day for about 5-6 minutes each time.
Once the pain is under control, apply heat therapy to the area. That encourages blood flow and healing. Heat also relaxes spasming muscles. Apply the heat for about 15-20 minutes at a time.
With both therapies, take caution not to damage your skin by applying the cold or heat for too long.
2. Over-the-counter inflammatories
If you’re still in pain after applying hot and cold therapies, try some over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen. Make sure to call our team before taking any medication, even the over-the-counter variety.
3. Gentle stretching
Since sciatica symptoms are caused by nerve compression, try some gentle stretching exercises to release the nerve. The classic yoga pigeon pose is fantastic for stretching your lower back and hips.
Simply lie on the floor on your back, bring your left leg up to a right angle, cross your right ankle over your left knee and then gently pull your left thigh toward your chest. You can also try simple toe touches while sitting on the floor with your feet out in front of you.
4. Massage therapy
Massages feel great no matter what condition you’re in, but they can also have a therapeutic effect when you have lower back pain. Trained massage therapists know where to target their massages to bring you much-needed relief.
Acupuncture is a technique in which needles are inserted along your energy pathways to unblock the flow of resources. One report reviewed 12 different studies analyzing the effects of acupuncture on sciatica and found that acupuncture was more effective than Western medicine for relieving pain.
6. Nerve blocks
While the treatment options we’ve outlined above are designed to avoid more interventional techniques, we offer nerve blocks when these measures prove ineffective. As the name implies, we block the nerve from sending pain signals to your brain, allowing you both relief and time to address the underlying problem.
If you’d like to learn more about treating your sciatica, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, California.