Somewhere around 40 percent of the population could be affected by sciatica at some point. If you happen to currently have this condition, it’s safe to assume you’re well aware of how irritation of the sciatic nerve can affect your daily life. The random nature of symptoms, which may include searing or shooting leg pain, can also make it difficult to focus on other things. However, there are some sciatica remedies you may have overlooked that could provide welcome relief. Here are four of them.
For most people with sciatica, it’s safe to try any combination of these remedies. Your doctor or Beverly Hills spine surgeon can offer additional suggestions about exercises, medication, and lifestyle adjustments that may also be beneficial for you.
This isn’t the same thing as applying a heating pad to the affected area, which can also be beneficial when done in 15–20-minute intervals. With this remedy, you use an adhesive heat wrap that provides low-level heat safely for up to 8 hours at a time. This approach to heat therapy increases circulation in a way that could also minimize discomfort from sciatica flare-ups.
Tip: Follow the directions that come with your wrap to avoid skin damage. Adhesive heat wraps tend to be more convenient because they can be worn under clothing and they cling comfortably to the skin.
Stretches and exercises for sciatica target soft tissues that support the lower spine in a way that takes some pressure directly off the area where the sciatic nerve is located. Exercise also has a tendency to reduce pain sensitivity because of the chemicals released naturally in the body during physical activity. Examples of sciatica exercises and stretches include:
• Hamstring stretches
• Pelvic tilts
• Knee-to-chest movements
• Lower trunk rotations
• Opposite arm and leg extensions
Tip: With any type of stretches or strengthening exercises, start with just 2–3 reps, and only do what’s comfortable for you. Also, consider applying heat to the areas you’ll be targeting to loosen up soft tissues so they’re not stiff or sore afterward.
If you’re looking to minimize your dependence on oral medications, you may benefit from the use of topical treatments. These include gels, creams, and patches that are applied directly to the affected area, and they tend to have fewer side effects. Methyl salicylate, capsaicin, menthol, and camphor are some of the over-the-counter topical options available.
Tip: Avoid applying heat or ice to the affected area when using topical meds. Doing so could reduce the effects of these remedies.
The purpose of a brace is to minimize the type of excessive spinal movement that can irritate the sciatic nerve. Options for braces used to manage sciatica symptoms include traditional lumbar support braces and hip braces that offer groin support. These braces are designed to be worn discreetly under clothing, but only for short durations. Another option is a lumbar support belt.
Tip: You can purchase items like these online or at your local pharmacy, but it can be helpful to get some input from your doctor as well before selecting and using a brace.
If sciatica is causing your back pain, treatments can vary widely, from application of ice and heat to physical therapy to a spinal fusion alternative. Beverly Hills patients should see a spine specialist for an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan. The spinal health experts at The Spine Institute have years of experience with all aspects of back health. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.