When sciatic nerve pain acts up, the nerve itself becomes inflamed due to an injury—for instance, a slipped disc, pinched nerve, pressure due to pregnancy, or poor posture. Sciatica can be very debilitating, however, there are a few tricks that can help soothe sciatic nerve pain and decrease inflammation.
- While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise is usually better for relieving sciatic pain than bed rest. Patients may rest for a day or two after their sciatic pain flares up, but after that time period, inactivity will usually make the pain worse.
Without exercise and movement, the back muscles and spinal structures become deconditioned and less able to support the back. The deconditioning and weakening can lead to back injury and strain, which causes additional pain. In addition, active exercise is also important for the health of the spinal discs. Movement helps exchange nutrients and fluids within the discs to keep them healthy and prevent pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Stretching, yoga and Pilates can encourage tight muscles to loosen up. Promoting flexibility through stretching can ease sciatica by also improving lower back support and improving core strength. This way, less pressure is placed on the backs of the legs where the sciatic nerve resides.
- Massage of the muscles of the buttocks and backs of the legs (where the sciatic nerve runs) can loosen muscle tension and decrease painful nerve inflammation. How? Massage promotes blood circulation which will ease sciatic nerve tenderness and built up tension.
- Apply Hot and Cold The old hot and cold switch works wonders on sciatic nerve pain. Start by applying an ice pack to decrease sciatic nerve inflammation then follow up directly with a heating pad to soothe muscle tension and encourage blood flow to the tense muscles and nerves in the area at the backs of the legs and buttocks.
- Get it straight. Your posture plays an important role in the health of your spine. Sitting and standing as straight as is comfortably possible will help to reduce the effects of nerve irritation and get your nerves healing quicker and more completely.
Avoid sitting in soft couches or chairs, as they will not give you the support that you need to sit well. Instead, drag a kitchen chair into the living room and spend your time sitting in a more supportive chair. Use a back support cushion in every chair you sit in; whether at work, in the car or at home to help support your back properly.
Please call your Physiotherapist at Point Cook Physiotherapy on (03) 9395 3499 or visit our clinic at Level 1, Suite 504, 4 Main Street, in Point Cook Town Centre for more information.