What is Sciatica, and How do You Treat It? 

the sciatic nerve

If you’re feeling pain in your lower back and hips, it could be a byproduct of sciatica, a common condition caused by injury to the sciatic nerve. If you’re experiencing chronic pain, please consult a physician. This article is not intended to be medical advice– just an overview of sciatica and a few ways to treat minor cases. 

What is the Sciatic Nerve?

Sciatic_nerve2

The sciatic nerve is a nerve in the back of the leg that runs from your hip to your ankle. The sciatic nerve can become injured for various reasons, including overuse, compression, or irritation. When the sciatic nerve is injured, it can cause pain down your leg and even into your foot. Sciatica is a common condition caused by an injury to the sciatic nerve, and there are many different ways to treat it. If you're experiencing significant pain down your leg or lower back where your spine meets your hips, you may want to see a doctor for evaluation. Many treatments are available for sciatica, and each individual may respond better to one. 

If you're experiencing significant pain down your leg, it's important to seek out help as soon as possible.

What Causes Sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition that results when the sciatic nerve is compressed or pinched. The sciatic nerve runs through the back of the lower leg, exiting the pelvis and running down the back of each leg. It can cause pain in that area, numbness, and weakness in the legs. 

Sciatica can be caused by a number of factors, including pregnancy, childbirth, athletic injuries, tumors, or other medical problems. Treatment typically involves stretching and exercises to relieve pain and improve mobility.

Sciatica is a common problem for men over thirty, but there are many effective ways to treat it. Here are six tips to get relief from sciatica pain.

How to Treat Sciatica

Seek Medical Treatment If You Can’t Get Relief From Your Own Methods

Consult a medical professional if you’re experiencing a medical issue. Your doctor is going to be your primary resource for treating sciatic pain, especially if it’s intense, and for confirming if that is the cause of your pain. If you’re unable to get relief from self-treatment, see your doctor. He or she can prescribe medications or treatments to help you get better quickly.

Sit With Better Posture

When most people think of sitting, they usually picture themselves slouched over their desks or in a chair with their feet up on the desk. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to sit for long periods of time. Sitting with good posture will help reduce the risk of developing sciatica and other back pain conditions. The following are some tips for sitting with good posture: 

Sit up tall and maintain a natural spine angle. Don't let your back bow or curve inward. Keep your shoulders pulled down and relaxed and your head level with your shoulders.

Avoid crossing your legs at the ankles or putting pressure on any part of your lower body other than the floor. If you must cross one leg over the other, do so just below the knee and avoid putting too much pressure on the ankle or foot. 

Take Over the Counter Painkillers

There are many over-the-counter painkillers available that can help with sciatica pain relief. Many of these medications are available without a prescription and are fairly cheap, so they are ideal for people who don't want to spend much money on medication. Some of the most common over-the-counter medications used to treat sciatica include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen. 

It is important to follow the dosage guidelines and instructions for any medication you take, including over-the-counter NSAIDs. Misuse or overuse of any medication can be dangerous, and overdoing it on NSAIDs– especially over long periods of time– can cause serious damage to your liver. 

Use Heat Therapy

If you’re experiencing intense pain, try using heat therapy. Heating pads, soaking in a hot bath with Epsom salts, and spending time in a sauna can all be beneficial. Heat encourages your muscles to relax, which can help you to relax the muscles through your hips, legs, and lower back. As these muscles relax, the sciatic nerve may no longer be pinched or compressed, which helps it to heal, reducing inflammation and pain. 

Massage Your Sciatica Area

Massaging your sciatica area may also help relieve pain. Use a light massage that focuses on the lower back and hip area. You can also use a deep tissue massage if you have more severe sciatica pain.

Working with a pain management-informed massage therapist is probably your best bet for a good sciatic area massage, but there are also home options.  Foam rollers, yoga wheels, and the Pso-Rite massager can all be used to help massage the area. Massage guns can work well too, but you may need someone to assist you with using them on your sciatic area. 

Perform Exercises That Stimulate The Nerve 

While overuse and injury can cause sciatica in the first place, low-impact exercise can also help to alleviate it. It’s like fighting fire with fire. 

Activities like swimming, low-resistance cycling, or low-resistance jogging on an elliptical all allow you to move the muscles and joints impacted by sciatic nerve pain. Movement helps encourage your body’s natural joint lubrication and strengthens the muscles surrounding that nerve, reducing your risk of recurring injuries. 

The most important aspect of using exercise to reduce sciatic nerve pain is not overdoing it. This isn’t like training for a personal best mile or doing high-intensity cardio to burn off calories. Keep exercise as gentle and low-impact as possible, and stop if you feel sharp pain or pinching. Don’t try to power through it. 

Make Stretching a Daily Habit

We’ve saved the best for last. Making stretching a daily habit can greatly improve your comfort, reduce sciatica-associated pain, and increase your mobility so that you’re less likely to experience recurring sciatica pain moving forward. 

A Ten-Minute Stretching Routine to Reduce Sciatic Pain

  1. Start with 2 Minutes of Child’s Pose. Lower yourself onto a yoga mat or soft surface with your knees apart and feet together. Sink downward so your butt lowers toward your heels, and your forehead rests on the mat in front of you. Extend your arms overhead, so you feel like stretching through your back– you don’t want it to be hunched or curved. Hold for two minutes. 
  2. Do 15 cycles of Cat-Cow. From child’s pose, raise yourself up onto your hands and knees. Your spine should be in a neutral position and your hands should be shoulder’s width apart. Inhale and drop your stomach toward the ground while lifting your gaze upward. Exhale and arch your back up toward the ceiling and lower your chin toward your chest. That’s one cycle. Repeat for a total of fifteen cycles. 
  3. Hold Happy Baby Pose for 2 Minutes. This yoga pose may sound and feel a bit ridiculous, but it’s a great way to stretch your sciatic nerve, hips, and lower back. Lie on your back and bend your knees toward your chest. Reach with your arms between your legs so that you can grip the outer edge of your feet. Let your knees gently fall out toward the side and down toward your chest. You should feel a deep stretch in the back of your legs and hips if you’re doing it correctly. Hold for two minutes.  
  4. Do 25 Reps of Bodyweight Good Mornings. Stand with your feet directly under your hips and a soft bend in your knees. Send your hips back and hinge forward at the waist until your torso is almost parallel to the floor while maintaining a flat back. Return slowly to standing fully upright. That’s one rep. Repeat for a total of 25 reps. 
  5. Do 20 Reps of Wide-and-Deep Bodyweight Squats. Spread your feet past shoulder’s width with your toes pointing away from the body. Squat as low and slow as you can. Ideally, your hips should come down below your knees and your core should be engaged, keeping your back straight. Return to standing. That’s one rep. Repeat for a total of 20 reps. 

And there you have it! This routine takes under 10 minutes to complete, and it has been an amazing way for me to keep my back and hips 

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