Finding Relief from Sciatica
Finding relief from sciatica can be a challenge. Sciatica pain, at its extreme can be burning sensation which radiates down the back of the leg, making it difficult to move. Many health practitioners believe finding pain relief for sciatica should be the first priority in a patient’s treatment. Movement helps to speed the healing process and many sufferers are reluctant to resume everyday activities while suffering from the pain sciatica can bring about.
Over the Counter Drugs
The first thing to try in the search for relief from sciatica is over the counter pain relievers. Aspirin, an anti-inflammatory agent, can help tremendously in relieving pain, but for some can cause gastrointestinal upset. Ibuprofen and naproxen are much easier on the stomach. For ibuprofen to have an anti-inflammatory effect, many physicians have suggested taking 600mg per dose. Acetaminophen, another common pain reliever works differently than ibuprofen and naproxen and can be used in conjunction with them for stronger pain relief from sciatica.
Finding comfortable positions
People seeking relief from sciatica should try not to sit for extended periods of time. Sitting can compress the spine, putting more pressure on the sciatic nerve and causing more pain. If sitting cannot be avoided, frequent breaks should be taken to decompress the spine. Standing is also hard on the spine and should be limited as much as possible in order to find relief from sciatica. Lying with the hips raised on a pillow is usually the best position that does not aggravate pressure on the sciatic nerve. Some individuals find lying on the side with a pillow between their legs and another supporting their arms to be ideal for finding pain relief for sciatica.
Ice and heat
Ice packs and heating pads are two very effective ways to seek relief from sciatica. Ice both decreases inflammation and numbs pain. To prevent frostbite, ice packs should be limited for about fifteen minutes at a time. Heating pads are great for pain relief for sciatica and can be used for longer periods. Care should be taken to avoid using too high of a heat setting in order to prevent burns.
When the over the counter drugs and home treatments fail to bring relief from sciatica, stronger medications may be needed. A physician can prescribe higher doses of naproxen, ibuprofen or other NSAIDs such as nambumetone. If these fail to bring pain relief for sciatica, steroids can be then be prescribed. Taken in pyramiding dosages, steroids such as prednisone can bring about dramatic relief from sciatica. Sometimes a doctor will recommend steroids injected directly into the site of inflammation which for some individuals can mean almost instantaneous relief. As a last resort, narcotic analgesics may be prescribed. These, however, can be habit forming and should be used with caution.
Another way of finding pain relief for sciatica is to visit a chiropractor. If a herniated disc is the underlying cause, manual adjustments can help realign the spinal disc, taking the pressure off the sciatic nerve. If muscle spasms are causing the problem, then the chiropractor may suggest massage or other types of manipulation to help find relief from sciatica.
Many doctors will recommend physical therapy when treating a patient for sciatica. Physical therapists have a number of tools to help bring about relief from sciatica. They can create a program of stretches and exercises to alleviate acute pain, use various devices such as a TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to provide relief from sciatica or even do a mechanical decompression of the spine. Physical therapists can also instruct patients on more advanced exercise programs aimed at preventing another episode of sciatica.