How To Treat Sciatica Pain

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Sciatica pain affects about five million people each year.  According to Sciatica.Org , it is responsible for 13% of the forty million cases of back pain that occur each year.  There are numerous causes for the condition, though most commonly it is caused by a herniated disc or bone spur on the spine that compresses part of the nerve.Before any treatment plans can be properly implemented it is important to receive a proper diagnosis of the underlying cause of sciatic pain.According to Peter J. Schubbe, DC , as stated in an article on Spine-Health.com, sciatica is a symptoms of other conditions – not a diagnosis in itself. One of the primary reasons for seeking an accurate diagnosis before embarking on any treatment plan is to ensure the proper treatment of pain.What works for sciatica caused by spinal stenosis could make pain worse for sciatica caused by a slipped herniated disc. According to the Mayo Clinic, most mild sciatica pain goes away on its own with time.

However, there are things you can do to relieve it.There are a variety of options available, depending on personal preferences and severity of pain.  These range from home remedies and exercise to alternative medicine or even pain medications.In extreme cases, surgery can help to solve a person’s sciatica problem. For those of us who suffer from “White Coat Syndrome” the idea of going to a doctor for any kind of treatment causes panic attacks often worse than the actual condition we are suffering from.Fear not, however, for there is relief that doesn’t involve sitting in a doctor’s office, swinging your feet as all the horrible diagnoses you read about online swarm into your head.Simple stretching exercises can help. Ron S. Miller, PT outlines the various types of stretching exercises that a person can do at home to get relief from any kind of upper and lower pain.

He Stresses It Is Important To Remember A Few Basics Before Doing Any Stretching Regiment:

  • Wear non-binding clothing
  • Don’t force yourself into difficult positions or to do something you cannot do, stretching should be painless and bring relief after all.
  • Move slowly into the stretch and avoid any sudden bouncing or jerking during the stretch as this could tear muscles
  • You should stretch on a flat surface that is large enough for you to move freely (in other words, make sure you move the coffee table!)
  • Hold stretches for 20-30 seconds, allowing your muscles and joints time to loosen
  • Repeat each stretch five to ten times

With Those Basics In Mind, You Can Now Begin Your Stretches. Miller Gives A Variety Of These Exercises To Help With Various Muscles That Could Be The Cause Of Sciatica, Such As:

  • Back Flexion Exercise: Performed by lying on your back. Pull both knees to your chest while also flexing the head forward until a comfortable stretch is felt in a balled up position.
  • Knee To Chest Stretch:  Performed while lying on your back, keep knees bent and both heels on the floor.Place both of your hands behind one knee and bring it to the chest.
  • Hip Stretch: While standing with feet shoulder-width apart, take a half step back with your right foot and bend your left knee and shift weight back to the right hip.  Keep your right leg straight and bend forward more and reach down the right leg until you feel a stretch in the outer hip.
  • Piriformis Muscle Stretch:  Lie on your back and cross one leg over the other and gently pull your other knee toward your chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock area.

It may seem counterproductive to stretch if you are in pain, and in fact you should wait until the flare-up of sciatica is over before performing any exercises (unless of course your physical therapist or doctor say otherwise).Exercise can be the greatest help to relieving sciatica pain as opposed to bed rest, as bed rest causes your muscles to tense up and become deconditioned and less able to support the back.  That would lead to back injury and strain which causes further pain. If a specific exercise regimen or physical therapy isn’t your cup of tea there are other options available.  Sciatica sufferers can also take a more traditional pain management route involving medication.  Some medications that may be prescribed for sciatica include; anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, narcotics, tricyclic anti-depressants and anti-seizure medications. In more severe cases, steroid injections (also known as epidurals) can be taken.  However, according to a recent article by Pat Anderson on American News Report, the effectiveness of these injections is coming into question, according to Rafael Zambelli Pinto, PhD student at the University  of Sydney and the author of the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.  Another last ditch effort to relieve pain is surgery.  Your doctor will be able to diagnose if either of these measures are needed for your pain. For those who prefer alternative methods, acupuncture and chiropractic visits can also be used to relieve the pain.  Mayo Clinic also suggests that hypnotherapy can be used to relieve the pain.  While I’m not sure about the last one myself, it’s evident that there is a plethora of ways to deal with and rid yourself of sciatica pain.  Just remember to get an accurate diagnosis before deciding to embark on any of the treatment opportunities mentioned.

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