Sciatica is pain, numbness, or tingling caused by irritation of the nerve roots leading to the sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerve pain is most commonly caused by a bulging or ruptured disc pressing against the nerve roots. Other conditions that can cause sciatica include narrowing of the spinal canal, bony growths, or nerve root compression. Sometimes pregnancy and tumors can also cause sciatica. The shooting pain that results when the nerve roots are irritated can be mild or debilitating and interfere with a person's quality of life.
Changing Sleep Positions
If the spinal disc is out of alignment, people are likely to experience sciatic nerve pain. One way for people to remedy this condition is to be mindful of their sleeping position. The goal is to sleep in a position that allows the spine to be in alignment. Placing a knee pillow between the legs (so the legs are about hip-width apart) will help maintain the proper alignment of the spine when people sleep on their side.
The pillow will prevent the lower back from twisting and the knee from dropping towards the mattress, a posture that will likely irritate the sciatic nerve. When lying on the back, it is helpful to place a pillow underneath the knees so they are slightly bent towards the ceiling. People can also place a rolled towel beneath their lower back in addition to propping up their knees.
Being Mindful Of Posture At Work
Many people sit all day at work and need to be mindful of how they sit to reduce sciatic nerve pain. Some tips for keeping the spine in proper alignment while sitting include not crossing the legs over one another, keeping the feet flat on the floor, keeping the hips and knees at a forty-five-degree angle, and moving chairs with wheels around as a single unit instead of turning and twisting the spine to reach for objects. It is also helpful to keep the back and buttocks against the chair to relieve spinal pressure. Using an ergonomic chair is ideal because it usually offers better support. In addition, getting up once in a while for a brief walk and even for a hamstring stretch can relieve sciatic nerve pain.
Seeing A Health Specialist
A physical therapist can help clients reduce pain and improve mobility. They recommend physical activity that relieves sciatic nerve pain, including stretches to improve flexibility and exercises to strengthen back muscles. Physical therapists also offer other treatments for pain and inflammation relief, such as heat therapy and ice massage therapy. A massage therapist manipulates soft body tissues, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues, to relieve sciatic nerve pain by guiding the spine into realignment. A chiropractor also offers various treatments, including adjustments to force the disc back into place, ice therapy to reduce pain and inflammation, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for pain relief. All of these treatments can relieve sciatic nerve pain and prevent disability.
Taking Medication For Pain Relief
Several types of medication can be prescribed to treat sciatic nerve pain. Medications commonly used for the condition include muscle relaxants to ease muscle spasms; anti-inflammatories; antidepressants for persistent low back pain; over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen); and prescription medications for severe pain. Sometimes a doctor will treat sciatic nerve pain by injecting a steroid medication into the space around the spinal nerve, although some research suggests that this treatment is not very effective when the sciatic nerve pain is caused by a herniated disc. A child under eighteen years should never take aspirin due to the increased risk of Reye’s syndrome, which can cause brain swelling, liver damage, and death.