The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs from the lower back down through the back of the leg. If there is pressure put on this nerve from an injury or condition, you may experience a type of pain which is commonly referred to as sciatica.
Sciatica pain can be felt from the lower back, hips, and down the leg. This is a common issue with as many as 40% of people experiencing it at some point in their lifetime. The risk of experiencing sciatica increases with age with the typical age range being between 30-50 years old.
Common sciatica symptoms include:
- Lower back pain
- Pain in leg that worsens when sitting
- Hip pain
- Tingling or burning sensation down the leg
- Weakness or numbness in the leg or foot
- Sharp, shooting pain making it difficult to stand up
Sciatica can be an extremely painful experience. Often the pain will alleviate itself within a few days, come and go, or be a chronic ailment. Fortunately, there are ways to help lessen the pain or prevent it from occurring.
Exercise is one of the most important ways to help prevent or alleviate sciatica.
Below are simple exercises to try:
- Aerobic exercise
- Walking or jogging
Any activities that can increase the heart rate and that can be done without causing more pain is an effective way to prevent and relieve sciatica.
If regular exercise is difficult for you due to mobility or other health conditions, stretching can be a very effective way to help with sciatica. Gentle stretching can help improve spinal flexibility and range of motion. Stretching can also help with building core and spinal strength.
The stretches you perform can be as simple as squeezing your shoulders back or pulling your arms above your head. If you are planning to exercise, stretching is especially good to do beforehand to warm the body up.
Apply Hot/Cold Compress
Applying a hot or cold compress can greatly relieve sciatica. Applying a cold compress or ice pack for 30 minutes can help reduce inflammation to the sciatic area. Applying an electric heating pad or taking a warm bath helps encourage blood flow and soothe muscle tension to the nerves in the lower back, legs, and hips.
Obesity and excess weight can increase the risk of sciatica along with other health problems. The increased weight puts pressure on the spine which can lead to a herniated disk and sciatic pain. Doing simple exercises and watching your diet can lead to even minor weight loss to reduce pressure and inflammation to the sciatic nerve.
Practicing good posture is a great way to relieve and prevent sciatica.
Some things to keep in mind with good posture are:
- Paying attention to your body’s position when standing or sitting.
- Pull your shoulders down and back to avoid slouching.
- If you work a desk job or live mostly sedentary, position your monitor or TV so you can see it without bending your head down or tilting it back.
For more information on relieving sciatica pain, call our office today 813-873-7777.