Easing the Pain of Sciatica
When standing up becomes a great difficulty and causes excruciating pain, or a mere sitting down can make the pain unbearably worse, chances are, it’s sciatica. Most likely, a person is suffering from sciatica when he or she experiences tremendous pain even while doing simple body movements. Sciatica or sciatic nerve pain is a condition in which the sciatic nerves in the body become inflamed. Sciatic nerves are found beginning at the lower spine and continue down the buttocks area, back of the legs, and into the feet. Symptoms of sciatica is characterized by a light tingling feeling or burning sensation to a full blown shooting pain that travels from the lower back, buttocks area, back of legs, and/or feet. More often than not, sciatic nerve pain affects only one side, although it could also be possible to run down both legs. Sciatica could be a frightening experience especially if you do not realize what is happening. One may begin to feel like becoming nearly crippled. However, most of the time, sciatica can be treated effectively.
Sciatica may occur when the nerve in the lower spine is pinched, or if there is a slipped disk. Arthritis or a sprained ligament will narrow the passageways of the nerves which may cause the nerve endings to become tender and inflamed. Other causes of sciatica, however rare, include an abscess, growth, or blood clot. Since sciatic nerve pain is caused by pressure and inflammation on the nerve root, sciatic pain relief treatment is generally focused on relieving both of these symptoms through surgical or non-surgical methods.
Non-surgical sciatic pain relief treatment may include one or a combination of medical treatments and alternative, non-medical treatments. Most of the time, it includes some form of exercise and stretching. If you are experiencing sciatica, it advisable to stay off your feet for the first few days. One of the things you must avoid is to get up and down repeatedly as this will only cause the nerve to become more irritated. Though some quarters pose questions on the benefits of bed rest, it is still advisable at least for the first few days.
It may also feel soothing to soak in warm baths to ease the pain. However, do not use heating pads while the nerve is inflamed. Prolonged heat will draw the inflammation in and will keep the swelling high. Rather, most healthcare professionals would advise the application of ice packs directly on the lower back area for 20 minutes at a time, every couple of hours. This may feel a little uncomfortable, but the cold packs will greatly help in reducing the swelling. Using mineral ice is also a good alternative in soothing the pain and offers a temporary sciatic relief.
Though some doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants for temporary relief of pain, caution is advised to prevent unnecessary side effects. Some medications can be addictive, or may give a false sense of feeling better.
Massage therapy is another method that is considered to be a highly effective non-surgical sciatic pain relief treatment. Massage treatments can keep your spine in better alignment for longer periods of time. As soon as your back begins to heal, your doctor may give you stretching and low impact exercises so that your muscles won’t stiffen too much. Be sure to engage in exercise only when your doctors approve it.
Alternative sciatic pain relief treatments that you might find available and helpful are acupressure, acupuncture, herbal therapies, homeopathy, biofeedback, and guided imagery to name just a few.
Surgical methods to remove the portion of the disc that is irritating the nerve root are microdiscectomy or lumbar laminectomy, and discectomy. Surgery helps relieve both the pressure and the inflammation especially if the sciatic nerve pain is severe and has not been relieved through medical treatments.