Physical therapy with a trained therapist can offer sciatica pain relief.
Sciatica causes pain to radiate along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the spinal cord to the hip and down the back of each leg. Back pain that shoots down one leg to behind the knee is a common symptom of sciatica. Common causes of sciatica may include a ruptured disk, pelvic injury or fracture, tumors, arthritis, poor posture, lack of exercise and obesity. Although sciatica is often painful, it is not always permanent. In fact, approximately 80 to 90 percent of people with sciatica and back spasms respond within six weeks to pain medication and rest, according to the Johns Hopkins White Papers: Back Pain and Osteoporosis report. Fortunately, there are many ways to get relief from sciatica without the need for surgery.
Heat and Ice
Alternating hot compresses and ice packs to the infected area helps stimulate circulation, reduce swelling and relieve pain. The ice pack should be used for 2 to 7 days at the initial stage when pain is intense, according to Spine-Health. Hot compresses should be applied 3 to 7 days after the start of the pain or after the sharp pain has lessened. Electric heating pads are also helpful as long as it is not too hot and does not damage the skin. Never sleep with a heating pad on your back since it can cause burning. Electric heating pads are available at any drugstore.
When over-the-counter medications, such as Ibuprofen, aspirin or acetaminophen, do not relieve the pain, doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and a muscle relaxant. The Mayo Clinic explains that tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsant drugs may minimize chronic sciatica pain by enhancing the production of endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. This medication works well because it allows the swelling around the nerve root a chance to subside.
According to the book, “Healthy Living” by Linda Rector Page, Ph.D, it is important to adopt a mineral rich diet containing calcium and magnesium, such as green vegetables, shellfish, tofu, whole grains, nuts and seeds. To maintain both your back and overall health, you should avoid salt, sugar, animal fat, alcohol, coffee and tea.
Doctors sometimes prescribe epidural steroid injections to treat sciatica and low back pain. The injections normally contain an anesthetic for pain relief and a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation around irritated nerves. The relief is only temporary for most patients.
Physical Therapy and Exercise
Physical therapy involves trained practitioners using various types of treatment and techniques, including heat, ultrasound, massage, stretches and exercises to correct posture and strengthen abs. The weaker your abdominal muscles, the more likely back problems will arise. Yoga exercises can improve posture by strengthening the muscles that support the spine. Stretches help release tension in muscles that are too tight. Doctors may order physical therapy for patients after an examination.