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If you are suffering from sciatica pain, you want relief now. In many cases, the pain will go away before you have to seek medical intervention, but the key is knowing how to manage the pain at home until it does go away. Simply knowing that it will probably go away is not enough. Not when it comes to sciatica pain.
That all to familiar nerve pain that runs from your low back into your buttocks and down your leg can stop you in your tracks. It can be debilitating, depressing, and downright excruciating.
If the pain does not subside after two or more weeks, then it's time to see your doctor, who will more than likely prescribe physical therapy as one option.
Let's take a look at some home remedies to get your sciatica symptoms under control and ease some of the stress associated with it.
The short answer is inflammation. However, with sciatica, it isn't always clear where that inflammation is.
If you have a herniated disc, a disc bulge, or narrowing in the spine's disc space, the inflammation can come from sciatica nerve irritation as a result of crowding in the disc space. However, many people don't have any of those conditions, yet their sciatica still flares up.
Another cause could be generalized inflammation in your body caused by a number of different factors. Environmental factors, an underlying health condition, and your diet are a few of the suspected causes.
There are quite a few home remedies that can help ease your sciatica nerve pain. It is critical to remember, however, that extreme pain doesn't necessarily call for extreme measures.
Home treatment options for sciatic nerve pain focus on gentle stretching, ice, and slow, consistent movement. Below are some ways to treat low back pain and sciatic nerve pain at home.
Use an ice pack for the first seven days for the treatment of inflammation associated with sciatica. The best place to position the ice pack is directly on your lower back.
However, you can use it on your buttocks or leg, too, if that provides some relief. Never put an ice pack directly on your skin. Use a pillowcase or other thin barrier between your skin and the ice. Leave the ice pack on for 20 minutes, and you can use it throughout the day as needed.
After the first week, you can use a heating pad on the areas. This may help increase circulation, decrease muscle spasm, and gently heat your muscles for stretching.
Apply heat for at least 15 minutes and no longer than 2 hours. The heating pad should be warm and not hot. If it feels uncomfortable, it's too hot.
Don't put yourself on bed rest because you are in pain. Laying in bed goes against all current health information, which states that lying in bed for extended periods of time may worsen the pain.
It's ok to rest for the first couple of days, but it is important to get up and keep it moving after that.
Gentle exercise increases circulation, provides gentle gliding of the nerves in your back and promotes healing. Even a slow walk outdoors is a good idea.
Before taking any medication, you should seek your doctor or pharmacist's medical advice to be sure that the new medication won't interact with any medication you are currently taking.
If deemed appropriate over the counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and aspirin may provide some relief from the pain.
Stretching for the treatment of sciatica pain should be different from stretching for flexibility. When stretching for sciatica treatment, your result should be to relieve your sciatica symptoms.
With a flexibility stretch, you would be looking to help increase your range of motion. If your symptoms increase while stretching for sciatica you should stop.
Try backing off the stretch a little bit to see if that helps. If it doesn't, then stop that stretch and try another one.
See our blog post entitled 7 Stretches for Sciatica Nerve Pain for stretches to do at home.
It can be tempting to sit and watch a movie or get on your computer when you aren't feeling good, and that's ok. It's important to change positions frequently, though.
Staying in one position for too long may further irritate your sciatic nerve. Avoid staying in one position for more than 20 minutes.
Setting a timer that you have to turn off and putting it across the room will help you achieve this goal.
A sciatica flare-up is not fun that's for sure. However, with proper home treatment, including the use of ice and heat, gentle exercise, stretches, over the counter pain medication, and frequent position changes, it is manageable.
It takes time and attention, which can be difficult when life is busy, and there seems to be so much to do. Remember, taking care to provide yourself with good quality home treatment may make the difference between having to seek medical intervention or not.
Keeping a journal of the interventions you tried and what worked and what didn't can shorten your course of home treatment during flare-ups in the future.
Also, if you notice a significant improvement with certain postural changes, exercises, or stretches, incorporate these into your lifestyle as they may be the keys to preventing or decreasing the intensity of sciatic nerve flare-ups in the future.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and a pound of cure for sciatic pain is worth its weight in gold.