As many as 40% of people experience sciatica at some point, making it one of the most common, yet misunderstood, types of pain. It involves your sciatic nerve, which travels from your lumbar spine through your buttocks and legs. Sciatica causes bothersome symptoms, such as a burning sensation, electric shock-like jolts, and muscle numbness and weakness. When it flares up, even coughing or sneezing can bring on excruciating pain.
In many cases, you can manage mild sciatica pain at home using the following techniques. When symptoms worsen or linger for weeks, professional care is important, both for your ease and to address any underlying condition that might lead to permanent nerve damage.
Interventional pain specialist Dr. William Yancey at Yancey Pain & Spine in Houston and The Woodlands, Texas, takes an integrative approach to treating sciatica pain through nonsurgical treatments. He can also guide you through ideal home practices to keep from aggravating your symptoms.
Stay reasonably active
When you’re enduring sciatica pain, added rest and relaxation makes good sense. To prevent worse pain, however, it’s important not to underdo or overdo it. Too much time on your feet can exacerbate pain, just as too much bed rest can weaken your muscles, leading to additional problems.
If you’re new to exercise, aim for 5-10 minutes of approved low-impact activity, such as biking, walking, yoga, or swimming, at a time. You may also benefit from working with a physical therapist, who can teach you exercises to do at home.
Apply heat therapy
Warmth from a bath, hot water bottle, or reusable gel pack can help keep sciatica pain at bay by improving the flow of nutrients, blood, and oxygen to your lower back. Heat therapy can also increase flexibility while reducing stiffness in the area.
All of this may make movement and exercise easier, not to mention safer. Dr. Yancey may recommend applying heat to your rear pelvis for 15-20 minutes before exercise. To prevent burns, make sure you place a towel or cloth between your skin and the heat source and take periodic breaks.
Consider OTC medication
Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, may help keep sciatica flare-ups from worsening by bringing down pain and inflammation. Aspirin or acetaminophen may help in similar ways.
Unless Dr. Yancey suggests otherwise, follow the dosage guidelines and instructions on the product packaging. If over-the-counter remedies or other home care strategies fail to suffice, you may benefit from a prescription muscle relaxant, antidepressant, or steroid injection.
To learn more about sciatica or better ways to manage your symptoms, call our Houston or The Woodlands, Texas, office of Yancey Pain & Spine or request an appointment online. You can also send our team a message here on the website.