What Can You Do at Home to Relieve Sciatica?

It is unclear exactly how many people are suffering from sciatica in the United States. However, you can arrive at an approximation by looking at another common condition, lower back pain (LBP). 31 million people in the United States suffer from LBP at any point in time. Of those people, 5 to 10% are believed to also experience sciatica. That would suggest there are currently between 1.55 million and 3.10 million people suffering from sciatica in the United States alone.

With so many people suffering from this chronic pain condition, it is common for people to wonder about at-home steps they can take to alleviate its symptoms. Here are a few methods you can use for sciatica at-home, do-it-yourself (DIY) pain relief:


Yoga

The impact of yoga on lower back pain is incredible, according to research published in Pain. The study's authors found that pain and disability plummeted 64% and 77% respectively when participants completed four months of Iyengar yoga sessions. While there is not as substantial of evidence to support yoga's impact on sciatic nerve pain, you may benefit from yoga if it is approached gently and mindfully. By practicing yoga, those with sciatica can become stronger and develop better range of motion. In this way, the stretching and breathing routine helps anyone afflicted with sciatica "move and function better so they don't fall into a posture that aggravates the sciatica," advises Oregon Health & Science University psychologist James W. Carson, PhD.


Stopping the sedentary lifestyle

If you are seated for many hours per day (as will often occur when people are at desk jobs in an office and then return home to sit in front of the TV), that sustained sitting position will contribute to pain conditions such as back pain and bulging discs. Typically a treatment plan for sciatica will include exercises meant to loosen the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve; they will also usually promote a general increase in physical activity.

Performing mild isometric exercises or targeted stretches can allow you to strengthen the muscles in the legs and back while simultaneously alleviating some of the pain in those areas. There are some exercises and stretches that you can perform at home whenever you have a flareup of symptoms.

When you want to get started with regular exercise, a pragmatic way to move forward is to go on brief walks, interspersed with time spent sitting or even lying down. The idea is then to build up to more steps each day. Additionally, in order to help you keep improving the distance you walk, you might want to get a fitness tracker or pedometer. Finally, pay attention to your alignment and focus on spine-lengthening postures.


Cutting the inflammation

It is likelier that a person will experience sciatica if they are exposed to certain occupational or personal risk factors. Example factors that will increase the chance that you might develop sciatica include taller height, being advanced in years, elevated stress levels, tobacco smoking, obesity or overweightness, sedentary lifestyle, and sustained experience with car vibrations (as with professional truckers).

Note that, generally, the risk factors for sciatica contribute to inflammation, which in turn leads to pain and complicates recovery from injuries. Thankfully, you can take steps to expedite your healing and reduce the inflammation within your body; these include plentiful sleep, regular workouts, and stopping any use of recreational drugs or cigarettes. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be sure to make use of a highly nutritious, anti-inflammatory diet.


Thermotherapy

Use a cold pack or frozen vegetable bag to suppress inflammation and numb the pain. You can also take an ice cube and massage the area where the sciatic nerve is particularly irritated, moving in a triangular direction. If you get too cold in one area, move the ice cube elsewhere.

Once you have either used an ice pack or an ice cube massage, dry yourself off, and switch to using an electric heating pad on the area. Be careful that you do not fall asleep against a heating pad, because you could end up with a burn.

If you do not have access to a heating pad, simply let hot water run on a hand towel, wring the excess water out of it, and put the towel on your back.

You may be able to actually get better results from moist heat than you do from a heating pad; some research shows that it allows for better muscular penetration and pain alleviation. Note: Avoid electric shock by not combining heating pads with wet towels.


Professional help for sciatica recovery

Are you experiencing the excruciating pain of sciatica? When at-home methods are not enough, you could benefit from professional care. At Avalon Laser Therapy, Dr. Barry provides innovative treatments to address the symptoms as well as the root cause. See our Sciatica Q & A.

You Might Also Enjoy...