Sciatic nerve pain can take many forms and is a symptom of a number of conditions. The sciatic nerve is the longest, widest nerve in the body, according to the Spine-Health. When that nerve is crowded or pinched, the result is pain that usually runs down the lower body. Sciatic nerve pain can take different forms, such as tingling, burning, aching or stabbing. Numbness can also be present. Those who suffer from sciatica have several options for self-care at home, and surgery is rarely needed.
Causes of sciatic nerve pain
The sciatic nerve stretches from your lower back down each leg. When the nerve is compressed, the result is radiating pain, inflammation and sometimes numbness. Typically, patients report pain from the lower back down the back of the leg. Usually, only one side of your body is affected by sciatica, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Nearly all cases can be resolved without surgery. However, the most severe cases can cause leg weakness or bladder problems. A doctor should be seen especially if the pain comes after a sudden injury, like a car crash.
The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc, a condition also known as a slipped disc. Other causes are muscle spasms, narrowing of the spinal canal and a slipped vertebra. A bone spur or a tumor can also push against the nerve.
To diagnose sciatica, your doctor will do a physical exam. Tests could include stretches, X-rays, an MRI or other exams.
Preventing sciatica pain
Not all cases can be prevented. For example, an accidental fall can cause injury. Pregnancy can put strain on the back. Some diseases can also cause the condition.
However, we can take care to keep our backs healthy. Experts agree there are some key ways to protect our back and potentially prevent sciatica:
- Lift items correctly.
- Practice good posture.
- Don’t sit for extended periods of time.
- Don’t smoke.
Treatment and home remedies for sciatic nerve pain
Non-surgical treatment could include physical therapy or medicine, such as pain relievers or anti-inflammatories. Sometimes doctors will recommend spinal injections of anti-inflammatory medicine.
At Oklahoma Pain Management, we treat sciatic nerve pain in a number of ways, depending on each individual patient’s needs. We offer therapeutic injections, an exercise plan, and may prescribe a sacroiliac brace.
As many as 9 in 10 sciatic cases can be resolved with these techniques, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
“It is important that you continue to move,” according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Do not remain in bed, as too much rest may cause other parts of the body to feel discomfort.”
Those who suffer from sciatica can practice some self-care measures at home to help ease their symptoms.
- Pain relief medicine and anti-inflammatories can be helpful.
- Cold packs. Place a cold pack against the affected area for 20 minutes several times a day.
- Try heat two to three days after your symptoms first appear.
- Practice some stretches that benefit the lower back.
Stretches to ease sciatica
Start out seated in a chair. Lift up the affected leg and look up to the ceiling. Hold for 5 seconds. As you stretch your leg, you will likely feel some of your sciatica pain symptoms as you stretch your sciatic nerve.
Sit on the floor and put your feet flat against the wall.
Basic version: Sit on the floor and put your feet flat against the wall. Put your hands on the floor behind you and arch your back.
Advanced version: Sit on the floor and put your feet flat against the wall. Interlace your fingers and put your hands behind your head. Slouch forward.
Additional version: Sit in a chair. Lift your leg that has sciatica symptoms. Put your hands behind your lower back and interlace your fingers. Slouch forward.
Hold all stretches for 30 seconds. This will most likely also trigger pain.
As with any injury, we highly recommend making an appointment with one of our experienced pain management physicians. Call Oklahoma Pain Management today to start experiencing relief!