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Managing Sciatica Pain: Relief Options

Living with Sciatica

Sciatica is one of the most common types of pain. As many as 40% of people will experience it, and your chances of experiencing one increase as you age. Sciatica tends to get mixed up with regular back pain, but the two differ. The pain originates with the sciatic nerves and disappears within a few hours or days.

However, some cases can persist for several weeks or even months. In these instances, increasing your exercise is the best thing to do. Exercise is an effective way to prevent or help relieve sciatica pain. Opt for aerobic exercises, strength and flexibility training, and physical activities. If your pain doesn’t go away even after exercising, you can try other treatment options.

Why is sciatica so painful?

Sciatica is painful because it travels along the path of the sciatic nerve. The pain can be almost anywhere along the nerve pathway, but it commonly follows the back to the buttock and the back of a thigh and calf. External influences can affect the pain, as it worsens when you cough, sneeze, or sit for a long period of time. The pain ranges from a mild ache to a sharp, burning pain.

Non-Surgical Sciatica Pain Relief

Exercise

One of the most effective non-surgical treatments for sciatica pain relief is exercising. Staying physically active eases inflammation and promotes healthy circulation in the region. Although your pain level may be high, find a way to get exercise, even if it’s light stretching or simple yoga practices. Do as much as your body allows.

Improving your core strength also helps build support for your spine, which can help you avoid sciatica. Doing trunk rotations and planks a few times a week can help immensely.

Sciatica stretches

You don’t need intense physical activities to relieve sciatica pain. You can opt for stretches. Sciatica stretches are the best stretches for sciatica pain. Stretching focuses on your piriformis muscle and hamstrings, which provides great relief.

Cold therapy

Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation, decrease muscle spasm frequency, and constrict blood vessels, reducing blood flow to produce a numbing sensation. It is done using ice packs, which should be placed for only 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Using ice for longer can result in frostbite, which damages the nerves.

Heat therapy

Besides cold therapy, heat therapy can also relieve sciatica pain without surgery. Experts recommend using heat therapy after cold therapy to relieve pain. Heat therapy promotes healing by decreasing muscle tension and spasms, expanding joint mobility, and improving nerve tissue function. It can be done using hot water bottles, hot packs, hot towels, or electric heating pads.

Medications

Most of the time, medications are the first line of treatment doctors administer for sciatica pain. Medications may also be prescribed for pain relief from the lingering soreness after physical therapy sessions or other sciatic nerve treatments.

Pain relief medications usually offer short-term solutions for immediate pain. Some common medications that doctors prescribe for sciatica pain include NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and aspirin, as well as opioid analgesics like oxycodone or tramadol.

Nerve Root Blocks

Nerve root blocks work to relieve pain by blocking a specific nerve root. A nerve root block injection for sciatica pain treatment involves injecting a medication that contains corticosteroids and local anaesthetic around the particular nerve root that connects to the sciatic nerve.

The local anaesthetic interrupts the nerve signals between your brain and the irritated nerve, and the corticosteroids help slow the inflammation process, which can increase pain.

Epidural Steroid Injections

Epidural steroid injections are similar to nerve root blocks in that they use local anaesthetics and corticosteroids to offer relief from sciatica pain. The injection is injected into the epidural space of your spine, not around a specific nerve root. The function of epidural steroid injections is to relieve inflamed and irritated spinal nerve roots.

Steroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are also used to provide long-lasting relief for sciatica pain. It has potent anti-inflammatory effects that often relieve sciatica symptoms, especially to the nerve roots in the spine’s epidural space.

Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine is a surgical anaesthetic agent. Low-dose intravenous infusions of it can produce widespread pain relief in sciatica and other parts of the body.

Sciatica Massage

Sciatica massage therapy can help you with sciatica pain by relaxing tight muscles that put pressure on your sciatic nerve. It also boosts blood flow to the affected area and minimizes pain.

Additional Tips for Managing Sciatica Pain

Avoid sitting for long periods.

Prolonged periods of sitting exert pressure on the discs and ligaments in the lower back. Avoid sitting too long and take frequent breaks to stand and walk around.

Practice good posture

Slouching is bad for you. To prevent slouching, pay attention to your body’s position when you’re standing or sitting.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Being overweight increases the risk of sciatica pain. Overweight people with sciatica pain tend to heal more slowly. Eat healthy, low-calorie diets and exercise regularly to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.

Exercises & Sciatica Stretches to Heal Your Pain

Exercises and sciatica stretches that can help relieve your pain include:

Cobra Stretch

  • Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders while you tuck your elbows close to your body.
  • Press into your palms and inhale. Slowly extend your arms as you lift your head, chest and shoulders.
  • Your elbows should be kept slightly bent, and your chin should always be lifted.
  • Tighten the muscles in your core and your thighs.
  • Hold 30 seconds and lower yourself slowly.

Lying Knee-to-Chest Stretch

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended; avoid arching your back.
  • Slowly bring one knee toward your chest and grasp it with your hands (behind or on top of your knee).
  • Pull on the knee gently until you feel a mild stretch in your lower spine and hip.
  • Hold 5 to 30 seconds.

Glute Bridge

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor, and your hips width apart.
  • Leave your arms to rest straight at your sides, palms down.
  • Your core should be tightened, drawing your belly button toward your spine.
  • Press your arms into the floor for support and push through your heels. Raise your hips toward the ceiling and squeeze your glutes.
  • This stretch aims for your body to form a straight line from head to knees, with minimal arch in the lower back.
  • Hold 5 to 30 seconds. 

Sciatica and Nutrition: Foods to Eat and Avoid for Pain Relief

  • Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Whole grains are also perfect for reducing inflammation in the body.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish like salmon, nuts, and seeds can also help minimize inflammation and pain.
  • Vitamin D in fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products is essential for bone health and reducing inflammation.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day.
  • Foods high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats should be avoided.
  • Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided as they make the pain worse.

Diet Hacks That Help Sciatica

Building your meals around whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy can help relieve sciatica pain. Avoid highly processed foods as they can worsen your pain.

Sciatica Relief in 8 Minutes

  • Stretches can provide quick relief. Opt for gentle stretches to alleviate sciatica pain.
  • Apply hot and cold compress alternatively to diminish inflammation and offer immediate relief.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can ease sciatica pain in a few minutes.
  • Don’t stop moving to keep your muscles active and reduce stiffness.
  • Regularly changing your sitting or standing posture can help prevent further sciatic nerve irritation. 

When to See a Specialist for Treating Sciatica Pain

If you’re experiencing tingling or numbness in your legs that makes it hard to walk or move, you should see a doctor. If the sciatica is unlikely to improve if it progresses to numbness or weakness. Timely intervention from a pain management specialist is essential.

Reasons You Need Pain Management For Sciatica

Pain Relief

One of the reasons you need pain management for sciatica is to help safely and effectively provide pain relief.

Get A More Accurate Diagnosis

Going to a pain management doctor for sciatica pain will help you make a more accurate diagnosis and determine the underlying cause. This will help you create a suitable pain management plan.

Faster Recovery

Seeking professional care for sciatica pain will also speed up your recovery process.

Improved Mental Well-Being

Chronic pain from sciatica can also affect an individual mental health. Opting for professional pain management for sciatica helps improve your mental well-being.

Prevent Further Complications

Without effective pain management for sciatica, the condition can worsen and lead to further complications. Seeking treatment from a pain management doctor can help prevent further complications.

How to Ease Sciatic Nerve Pain

Apply a cold pack to the painful area for up to 20 minutes several times a day. You can also apply heat to the sensitive areas. Stretching exercises for the lower back might provide some relief, and pain relievers are also effective in easing sciatica nerve pain.

Dr. Rozier MD: Sciatica Pain Management Doctor in Mansfield, TX

Sciatica can be very painful and negatively impact your quality of life. If you’re in Mansfield and looking for a qualified and experienced sciatica pain management doctor, we encourage you to contact Dr Antonio Rozier, MD.

Dr. Rozier is a trained and experienced pain management expert in Mansfield, TX, who has successfully helped many people with chronic and debilitating pain. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Rozier today to experience lasting pain relief.

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