The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back down through your legs, and it is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. When your back muscles tighten or spasm, the sciatic nerve becomes irritated and pain radiates anywhere from the lower back to behind your thigh and down to your knee. This pain—called sciatica—can be mild or debilitating, and acute or chronic.
To properly identify the source of your pain and which treatment methods will be most effective, you should seek out a specialist to help with long-term sciatic pain management. There are however, a number of coping mechanisms you can try to help relieve pain during a sciatic flare up and hold you over until your next appointment!
1) Stay active.
You might think that movement would be counterproductive for pain management, but regular exercise actually helps reduce inflammation around your sciatic nerve! Even if your pain is severe, light physical activity will release endorphins that help alleviate your symptoms. Try to get in some cardio, strength training, a leisurely walk, or even some water aerobics if you need something that’s easier on your joints.
2) Stretch it out.
Help loosen tight muscles and prevent sciatica flare ups with routine stretching. Focus on your lower back and hips for maximum pain relief. This will help take some of the pressure off your sciatic nerve and ease your discomfort. Use a foam roller or try one of these stretches to reduce your suffering!
3) Use ice and heat.
Ice packs and heating pads are excellent, easily-accessible tools for quick relief from sciatic pain. Use ice to reduce inflammation and heat to increase blood flow to the troublesome area. Alternate between the two to see what works best for a cheap and easy fix to tie you over.
4) Work on your posture.
We’ve all been yelled at by mom for slouching at church and drooping our shoulders at the dinner table. It turns out she was on to something though, because poor posture puts stress on your lower back and strains the sciatic nerve! Pay attention to your sitting and standing posture to prevent irritation and pinching. Pull your shoulders down and back to avoid slouching and take frequent breaks if you sit at a desk all day.
If you’re experiencing pain you think may be due to sciatic nerve irritation, your first step should be to schedule a consultation with a physical therapist. One of our specialties at CT Physical Therapy Care is treating sciatica and other types of back pain. Give us a call at 718-255-6299 to get in touch with an expert and let us make your recovery a priority today!