Does it hurt to stand or sit? Experiencing painful tingling, numbness, or radiating sharp pain down your backside? Does this nagging pain seem unstoppable? Sciatica may be what is ailing you.
What is sciatica or sciatic nerve pain?
Sciatica is common. 40% of us have experienced it at some point. Many are unaware that this common “back pain” is caused when the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the human body, is irritated or pinched.
Sciatica is often caused by a compression or bulge in the lumber spine. Spinal injuries and degeneration, issues with the sacroiliac joint, and tightness of the piriformis muscle are other causes of sciatica.
The sciatic nerve branches from your lower back to your hips, buttock and down both legs. It is most common for someone to only experience pain radiating down one side of the body and not both at the same time. The pain you may experience will most often feel like a pain in your low back to buttock area which will radiate down the hip into your legs and may feel like a sharp stabbing, burning or a throbbing that can also create numbness or tingling in the legs and feet. Many people may feel weak or have difficulty moving their leg. This pain can be a constant or shooting pain that may come and go throughout the day.
Who is at risk for sciatica?
Those who have postural issues, diabetes, sit for prolonged periods, and lift large loads are most likely suffer from this painful condition. Women often experience this condition during pregnancy due to pressure being created on the sciatic nerve from the developing uterus.
How can we prevent ourselves from experiencing sciatica?
Forming these daily habits can help you and keep you in the best possible physical condition to avoid sciatica:
- Regular exercise. Keep your back strong and pay attention especially to your core strength. The muscles in your abdomen and lower back are incredibly important for proper posture and alignment of your spine. Do your crunches!!
- Use proper posture. The average adult sits for a majority of the day whether it be driving or working. Sitting in a hunched over position or with your legs crossed is a great way to make yourself susceptible to the excruciating experience of sciatica. A great way to improve your posture; take a small rolled up towel and place it between your lower back and the back of your chair to maintain your normal back curve. This can help in working toward a healthier core strength and posture.
- Good body mechanics. If you are in a place where you may be standing for an extended period, find an item that will allow you to keep one foot elevated, maybe a stool or box. When you are moving or lifting things, lift with your legs and refrain from using back strength to get the job done. Move your spine straight up and down, keep your spine straight (not hunched over) while lifting an item from a low point and keep the load close to your body.
- Take breaks. We sit much more than we should. Try and implement small breaks into your day of sitting to get out and enjoy the sunshine for 3-5 minutes several times a day. Adding stretching into this break will help you in your journey of being sciatica free.
- Whole foods and anti-inflammatory diet. Focusing on a high quality diet that limits white sugar, white flour, and fried foods will help prevent and ease sciatica. Foods that decrease inflammation like turmeric, berries, omega-3s, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and fruits and vegetables are perfect for preventing and reducing pain.
How can we relieve sciatic pain?
The upside of sciatic nerve pain is that 80%-90% of people heal with time and rest without prescriptions or surgery. Although this condition can heal on its own, there are many natural ways that we can treat sciatica ourselves.
- Hot and cold therapy. Heat on the painful area will loosen and relax tense muscle. Add cold therapy to reduce swelling. Switching between the two can be beneficial in reducing the pain caused by sciatica.
- Keep yourself active! Moving around as much as possible will keep your body from stiffening and worsening the condition. Motion reduces inflammation.
- Stretch! Stretching your legs, back, hips and pectoral muscles can reduce pain almost immediately. Foam rolling is an excellent way to stretch your muscles and roll out muscular stiffness.
- Get a massage. Massage therapy has been proven to have a number of benefits for back pain, including increased blood circulation, muscle relaxation, and release of endorphins (the body’s natural pain relievers). Add cupping to your massage for nerve pain. Massage cupping is the most natural approach to sciatica relief. Adding cupping to your massage promotes enhanced blood circulation and muscle relaxation while decreasing inflammation and promoting detoxification in the affected areas.
Book a massage appointment today. Booking a massage appointment at Zama Massage Therapeutic Spa gives you one on one time with a licensed and trained massage therapist who will answer your sciatica and back pain questions as well as give you tips on how you can further treat yourself at home. CLICK HERE to see our massage menu.