As many as 40% of Americans will experience some form of sciatica nerve pain in their lifetime.
Yet, despite its frequency, this remains one of the least-discussed health issues around. At the same time, it is often plagued with misconceptions. This lack of conversation, coupled with inaccurate details, can make it difficult for sufferers to find the treatment they need.
If you've ever felt that mild ache or sharp, burning pain, you know that you'd do almost anything to find relief. Thankfully, there are a few ways to achieve it. Today, we're sharing 10 ways you can help ease the discomfort associated with your sciatica pain, and how our products can help.
What is Sciatica?
As its name implies, sciatica refers to a type of pain that radiates along your sciatic nerve. This is the nerve that begins at your lower back and runs throughout your hips and buttocks, as well as down each one of your legs.
While the nerve branches into both sides of your body, those who experience pain in this region typically only feel discomfort on one side.
Causes of Sciatica
There are myriad different reasons why your sciatic nerve might give you trouble. For one, you might have suffered a herniated disk in this region.
The vertebrae in your spine are separated by rubbery disks that keep them apart from one another. Each disk includes a soft center, or nucleus, as well as a tough exterior portion, called the annulus.
A herniated disk occurs when you experience a crack in the annulus of one of your disks, which allows a part of the inner nucleus to push through. If this happens, it can press on your sciatic nerve and cause substantial pain.
Or, you might have a bone spur on your spine that's causing your discomfort. Some people even experience a condition known as spinal stenosis that compresses the nerves in this region. If this occurs, the leg on the affected side can become numb. It can also lead to pain and inflammation.
In all, there are varying levels of sciatica. Some cases are severe enough to warrant physical therapy or surgical treatment while others are more short-term and will resolve themselves in a few days.
Symptoms of Sciatica
How can you know if the pain issues you're dealing with stem from sciatica? There are a few telltale signs of this condition. The most notable symptom is pain that begins at your lumbar (lower) spine, radiates to your buttock, and spreads down the back of one of your legs.
While this is the most common route that the pain tends to take, you might also notice some discomfort at any juncture along the nerve pathway.
As mentioned, the severity of sciatica pain is far from one-size-fits-all. Some people only experience a mild burning sensation while others feel a sharp tinge of pain that will not go away. Then, there are some people who feel more of a tingling or numbing feeling on their affected side.
Often, sufferers will realize that their pain becomes more acute any time that they engage their core, such as to cough or sneeze. They also notice that prolonged periods of remaining sedentary can cause the pain to worsen.
Ways to Find Relief From Sciatica Pain
When you're in the throes of sciatica pain, it might feel as though nothing in the world can make you feel better again.
Yet, there are a few proven and practical ways you can find much-needed relief, if only to get a good night's sleep! Let's take a look at a few of the most beneficial and commonly-used tactics.
A gentle massage can help loosen your muscles and tendons, and relieve any built-up tension or tightness caused by a pinched or stressed nerve. If you're suffering from debilitating nerve inflammation, this exercise can also help temporarily relieve that condition by encouraging your blood to circulate more freely.
Whether you're performing the massage yourself or you hire a professional, a majority of the effort should focus on your buttocks and the back of your legs. While just one massage can provide targeted relief, keep in mind that to see real, long-term results, it's best to make massage therapy a regular part of your routine.
Aim to visit your masseuse at least once every two weeks to encourage longer-lasting nerve relaxation. If you experience any soreness or tenderness after your massage, try soaking in a warm bath.
2. Acupuncture Therapy
Researchers estimate that around 20 million Americans have tried acupuncture to help treat a variety of ailments. This ancient form of alternative medicine is a key facet of traditional Chinese healing. It involves inserting thin needles into targeted areas of your body.
The goal? To help balance your energy, boost your wellbeing, and promote healing.
Many people who suffer from sciatica claim that acupuncture helps them overcome their pain and find relief.
How does it help? When inserted in certain locations along your legs and forearms, the needles can help calm the muscle spasms commonly associated with sciatica. In addition, this practice helps boost your blood flow and overall circulation, which can deliver a gentle and effective form of pain relief.
If you're considering this approach, it's important to realize that the art of acupuncture is not a cure for sciatica. Yet, your practitioner can strategically place needles to target your lower back and address this issue. In turn, this helps regulate blood flow along those nerve pathways and promotes muscle relaxation.
3. Heat or Cold Therapy
You might have tried icing your back or lower legs when your sciatic nerve pain flares up. Or, you may swear by moist heat packs that stimulate blood flow and add instant hydration.
In your quest to ease your discomfort, have you considered applying both hot and cold therapy at the same time? Alternating hot and cold compresses can deliver an effective "shock" to the muscles that surround your nerve.
On its own, heat is an excellent muscle relaxer, as anyone who has ever soaked in a hot bath knows! If your muscles are inflamed and pressing on your sciatic nerve, a hot compress or hot pack can provide near-instant relaxation and relief. Yet, as with most sciatica treatments, the alleviation will not last long unless you commit to administering the therapy on a regular basis.
The same applies to cold therapy, or ice therapy.
Cold packs can temporarily reduce swelling around your sciatic nerve. For best results, prepare a few packs beforehand and apply them in 20-minute intervals throughout the day.
4. Specialty Seat Cushions
Are you looking for a way to relieve your sciatica as you sit at your office desk? What about as you ride in your car for an extended period of time?
Sitting can exacerbate any sciatic nerve pain you're already experiencing. This is why it pays to invest in top-quality seat cushions to help maximize your comfort.
To start, take a look at our Memory Foam Wedge Cushion. Designed to alleviate pressure from your spine and decrease chronic pain, this cushion is made of 100% premium memory foam. In addition to relieving sciatica pain, it also helps reduce pressure on the following areas:
The cushion is ergonomically designed and heat-responsive, allowing it to form to your body for all-day comfort. Once you're home from work and out of the car, you can keep the comfort going by relaxing with our Memory Foam Half Moon Bolster Pillow. This pillow fits securely between your legs, under your knees, or behind your back to deliver targeted relief from sciatic nerve pain.
5. A Warm Bath and Epsom Salts
Few natural substances cure as many aches and pain as Epsom salts. When sprinkled into your warm bathwater, these salts deliver a ton of health benefits. Even if you don't suffer from sciatica, you can still enjoy the many health boosts they deliver to your nervous and muscular systems, including:
- Better sleep
- Stress relief
- Constipation relief
- Muscle performance and recovery
If your sciatica is bothering you, Epsom salts are an easy and cost-effective way to reduce pain and swelling in that region. These powerful salts contain high levels of magnesium, a nutrient that your body can easily absorb. When you're ready to relax and recharge, add two cups of Epsom salts to your bath, and enjoy a soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Yoga and Other Gentle Exercises
You might not exactly feel like running a marathon if you're suffering from sciatica. In fact, you might not feel like doing any type of cardio exercise at all, and that's OK!
Stick to gentle exercises such as yoga and Pilates, both of which are designed to promote stretching, strength, and breathwork, helping to fortify your core. These 10 yoga moves are especially beneficial for helping to relieve sciatic nerve pain!
In addition to yoga, you can also try light stretching to loosen muscle tension and strengthen your lower back. In addition, your physician or physical therapist may be able to recommend other low-impact exercises that will make your back stronger and more flexible without putting too much impact on your joints.
7. Topical Essential Oils
You already know the benefits of diffusing essential oils in your home. You know that breathing in oils can help with a variety of physical and psychological ailments and promote improved wellness.
Yet, your collection of oils isn't just mean to be diffused. There are certain oils that are just as beneficial (if not more so) when applied topically to your skin. For targeted back pain relief, try rubbing a few drops of chamomile oil on the back of your thighs or along your lower spine.
This one step can help relieve sciatic nerve pressure, as well as allow you to drift off to sleep more peacefully and easily! Of course, any time you apply essential oils to your skin, it's always best to dilute them with a carrier oil first to avoid skin irritation. You can blend your oils with coconut oil or olive oil without compromising efficacy.
8. Doctor-Prescribed Medication
There are many natural and holistic therapies that can help relieve your tension and alleviate the pressure you feel. In addition, there may also come a time when your doctor prescribes pain medication to treat your symptoms.
In most cases, if these medications are prescribed, they will usually contain some form of muscle relaxer and pain-relieving agent. To stimulate your body's own pain-killing properties, some of these medications may also contain an antidepressant. The specific type of medication that your doctor prescribes will depend on the severity of your condition and the frequency of your symptoms.
9. Improved Nutrition
Did you ever think that what you're putting into your body could be contributing to the way you're feeling? A large part of sciatica centers on inflammation, and there are certain foods you can eat to lower yours. A few of the best items to reach for include:
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
- Fatty fish (e.g. salmon)
- Plant-based, natural foods
In addition, it's also important to consume an adequate amount of soluble and insoluble fiber. If you find it difficult to add it to your diet, there are supplements available. In addition, certain spices, including turmeric and ginger, can also help reduce inflammation.
10. Mind-Body Exercises
Sometimes, the most effective way to work through pain is to mentally rise above it. This is the crux of mind-body routines, which seek to elevate the intellectual over the physical.
Download an app such as Calm and follow the guided routines to silence outside feelings and tap into your inner Zen. These span from deep breathing practices to guided imagery exercises and meditation. Not only can this moment of self-care help relax your muscles, but it can also give you the mental fortitude to push beyond the immediate pain and improve your self-control.
If you suffer from anxiety that stems from your condition, mind-body exercises can help you take control of your emotions and conquer your fears.
Find Incredible Sciatica Relief Today
It's easy to feel isolated and overwhelmed when your sciatica pain doesn't seem to go away. However, these 10 resources above can help you reclaim your quality of life and finally find relief.
We offer a wide range of health and wellness products designed to offer unparalleled support to your spine, neck, back, tailbone, and more. In addition, our home products help make your personal oasis as relaxing and comfortable as possible. Feel free to browse our online shop and contact us with any questions.