12 Of The Best Ways To Outsmart Sciatica Pain

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Are you, or someone you love, suffering from the pain of sciatica? Have well-meaning people told you that the numbness, tingling, and pain are something that you just “have to learn to live with”?

It’s been estimated that as many as 40 percent of all Americans experience sciatica pain at one time or another. The good news is that you don’t have to learn to live with it; there are plenty of things that can be done to ease your painful and annoying symptoms. You can have a pain free life once more.

Sciatica is caused by an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve. This is the largest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve starts at your hip, goes through the back of the leg, ending in the foot. When this nerve becomes pinched or damaged, it sends out  pain signals as well as feelings of burning, weakness in the affected leg, numbness, cramps, or tingling ‘pins and needles’, types of feelings. Many types of sciatica pain are linked to an underlying problem such as a herniated disc, or spinal stenosis.

You don’t have to live with this problem, however. There are plenty of ways that you can outsmart that sciatic nerve so that it stops being such a pain in the ….leg.

 

1.  See a Chiropractor

Many people find that regular visits to a chiropractor can help to take the pressure off the sciatic nerve. Spinal manipulation can help to restore mobility, reduce inflammation, decrease pain, and encourage natural healing. Although the effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments has shown mixed results in scientific studies, millions of sciatic patients report significant reduction in their pain.

 

2. Strengthen Abdominal and Core Muscles

Your core is so much more than just abdominal muscles. Core muscles include just about every muscle except for arms and legs. Many people fail to develop their core muscles and after years of inactivity, they develop numerous problems with their spine. When you strengthen your abdominal and core muscles, you provide support for your back muscles and spine. This will prevent injuries such as sciatica. Yoga is excellent for strengthening your abdominals and core muscles. Yes, it will seem like a lot of work at first but over time it gets easier and your pain will decrease if you keep it up.

 

3. Acupuncture

This is an effective alternative treatment in which needles, around the thickness of a single human hair, are inserted into the body at specific points.  This will stimulate the energy flow in the body and improve nerve function. Many people find relief from their sciatic pain after just one session, and many more report that they had complete relief from their pain after several sessions. Be sure that you are seeing a certified and licensed acupuncturist. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

4. Change Bad Habits

Everyone has their own little favorite quirks or habits. Perhaps you love to read in bed, propped up with three or four pillows. Maybe you just won’t give up your “lucky” pair of tennis shoes, no matter how run down they may be. Or perhaps you carry everything but the kitchen sink in your backpack, “just in case.”  Repetitive movements or movements and positions that repeatedly pull our spines out of whack or put more weight on one side than another can cause sciatic pain.  Take a hard look at your habits and change them. Buy some new “lucky” shoes, take some weight out of the backpack or at least don’t wear it on one side, and try to maintain good posture when sitting in bed or on the sofa.

 

5.  Watch Your Exercise Routine

For some people, their exercise routine is the basis for their sciatic pain. If you notice that your pain seems to get worse after exercising, stop doing it for a few days. If the pain lessens or goes away, start again, only this time limit yourself to just one or two exercises. Keep adding them back into your routine until you feel that old sciatic pain. This will help you to identify the culprit. If almost any kind of exercise seems to aggravate your pain, you might want to check with a physiotherapist who can recommend an exercise routine that works perfectly for you.

 

6. Cannabis

Cannabis is well known for relaxing the body and it can be a terrific pain reliever as well. Now, of course, cannabis will not heal a sciatic nerve, but if you know that your nerve pain is temporary because of an injury, such as a herniated disc, and you expect to make a full recovery in a few weeks, nothing can kill the pain and relax you like cannabis. If you aren’t a fan of smoking, you can always heat some cannabis in some food such as soup or some infamous brownies to relax the body and kill the pain from sciatica for hours.

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Group doing stretching exercises in back training class in a fit

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7. Wear a Binder

An abdominal binder is a sort of brace that helps to keep your spine more aligned, which will take some of the pressure off your muscles. This is a good alternative for those who are suffering from disc problems or arthritis but who don’t want to use cannabis. Abdominal binders can be worn for a few weeks at a time and are good for teaching people about what proper posture should be. This does reduce the use of your core muscles, though, so you should only use it for short periods of time.

 

8. Fix Your Posture

Speaking of posture, many of us are guilty of poor posture. The good news here is that as long as your poor posture did not cause actual structural changes, you can alter the way in which you walk, sleep, and sit. Proper posture means that your head, neck, back, butt and legs are aligned. Look at yourself in a mirror as you sit on the sofa or in a chair and make corrections. This can be difficult and feels strange at first, but like many things, posture is nothing more than a habit, and habits can be changed.

 

9. Wear the Right Shoes

In the beginning, shoes were not intended to be fashion statements. Shoes are meant to protect your feet from falling objects, from stubbing toes, from stepping on sharp objects, and to give your feet a solid foundation for good balance and, later on, shoes were made to support the feet. When your shoes fail to do this, the body will begin to change posture and tighten up certain muscles to even things out and to help us stay balanced. If you suffer from sciatica, you will need to wear flat, supportive shoes that fit well. Those sky high heels? Well, it looks like you can hang them up right next to your old disco ball.

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Portrait of a fit young woman doing the butterfly stretch in exe

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10. Practice Stretching

If you suffer from sciatica, stretching has just become your new best friend. Stretching is just as important as exercise for sciatica patients and it should be made a part of your exercise routine. Stretching should be done daily to prevent tight muscles, lengthen the muscles, and prevent spasms. This alone can help to both prevent and treat sciatica. If your job involves a great deal of repetitive movements, such as cashiering, try to take regular breaks to stretch for 10 or 15 minutes.

 

11. Relax

Everyone has at least some stress in their lives and people carry it in different parts of their bodies. Some carry it in their neck, others in their shoulders, and others in their spine and lower back. These tight muscles cause you to adopt unhealthy postures which can lead to sciatica. Take time out of your day to relax and release tension.

 

SEE ALSO: Best Natural Remedies for Relief of Neck Pain

 

12.  Lighten the Load

People who carry heavy loads can often find themselves suffering from lower back pain and sciatica.  If possible, avoid carrying more weight than you have to. Are you certain you are going to read that hardback book on the subway? Can you leave that heavy jacket at the office during lunch?  Are you absolutely going to need every book and notebook in your backpack? Sometimes, carrying less is simply a matter of being organized or making plans in advance. If you must play the part of a pack mule occasionally, try to distribute the load. Don’t carry a great deal of weight on one side only, or change sides frequently.

Don’t forget simple things that can also help such as long soaks in a warm bath with Epsom salts, get extra rest and try a gentle massage to loosen up tight muscles.

If your pain persists despite all of your best efforts, talk to your doctor about other options that might be available to you.

References:

Mayoclinic.org

Nhs.uk

Medicinenet.com