Sciatica is a collection of symptoms that includes pain that runs down the length of your sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in your body. The pain starts in your lower back and shoots down through your hips, buttocks, and the backs of your legs, and is often accompanied by numbness and tingling. It’s often debilitating; all you can do is lie down and wait for it to be over. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce the severity and duration of your sciatica pain. For example, you can do physical therapy for back pain.
Altering Ice and Heat Therapy
One way to relieve pain from sciatica is to alternate applying ice and heat to the area. When your sciatica first flares up, use ice for a couple of days to alleviate the inflammation. Apply ice packs wrapped in towels to your lower back for 15 to 20 minutes, four to five times a day.
Once the inflammation has gone down, you can apply a heating pad to the area if that provides more pain relief for you, again for 15 to 20 minutes, four to five times a day. You can also alternate heat and ice every two to three hours to keep the inflammation at bay and reduce your pain levels. If you attend physical therapy in Highlands, Louisville, your physical therapist may have more specific guidelines for your particular case of sciatica.
Importance of Self-Care
Self-care is vital for the treatment of sciatica pain. You absolutely must rest, otherwise, the pain will keep getting worse and may turn from acute — where it crops up for a couple of weeks before going away again — to chronic — where it’s there all the time. However, it’s also important not to rest too much because too much rest or inactivity can actually make your symptoms worsen.
Stop doing whatever it was that caused your sciatica pain to flare up. Sit or lie down, whichever is more comfortable, and use ice packs wherever your pain is. Take the opportunity to read a book, binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix, or work on a creative hobby such as quilting or counted cross-stitch.
After you’ve rested for two or three days, resume light activity, including stretching and low-impact aerobic exercises like swimming or using an elliptical machine or recumbent bike. Don’t push yourself too hard, just enough to work up a light sweat.
Your physical therapist will be able to help you with a list of stretches and exercises you should do daily. If you don’t have a physical therapist, you can Google “sciatica treatment near me” to find one who specializes in treating sciatica.
Living with sciatica means knowing that you’re going to have unbearable pain from time to time. Taking the proper precautions such as exercise, stretching, and self-care can help lessen the frequency and strength of your sciatica attacks. Working with a physical therapist who specializes in the treatment of sciatica can help you live a more productive, less painful life.