If you have been experiencing pain in your lower back that radiates down through your glutes and to the back of your legs, these signs may indicate sciatica. Sciatica is pain that travels through the sciatic nerve, which branches out from the low spinal region down to each leg. Most often only one side is affected and it is commonly associated with a herniated or bulging disc, a bone spur, or spinal stenosis causing pain, inflammation, and even numbness in the leg. The pain associated with sciatica can vary from mild discomfort to burning or extreme pain, and some people experience tingling or weakness in their legs.
While the pain brought on by sciatica can be quite severe, mild cases often can be resolved over time with some simple self-care habits, which include:
- Avoid sitting for long stretches of time. The sitting position increases the pressure put on the sciatic nerve, which then radiates down the leg. Try to limit sitting in hard chairs or overly soft sofas for extended periods of time. If you have the option, try getting up and walking every 15 minutes or so.
- Change your position often. As previously mentioned, sitting for extended periods of time can aggravate sciatica along with poor posture. When your sciatica is flaring up, try alternating from a sitting position to standing, or go for walks.
- Exercise often. Keep your back strong by working your core muscles. The stomach muscles, as well as low back muscles, are essential for maintaining proper alignment and posture.
- Practice good mechanics. If you do the heavy lifting for work or enjoy weightlifting to stay in shape, let your legs do the work, and keep your knees bent and back straight. Avoid lifting while twisting, and find someone to help you lift heavy objects when possible.
- Stretch and strengthen the hips. Prolonged sitting at the computer or in front of the TV can cause hip muscles and ligaments to become tight which can mean a smaller range of motion. Limited motion isn’t always noticeable but it can create a strain on the spine. Increasing your range of motion in the hips and strengthening the muscles surrounding them can relieve that pressure pinching the sciatic nerve and relieve some of the pain associated with it.
- Increase the flexibility of your back and spine. Maintaining a strong back and flexible spine is important for overall health, so understanding the proper exercises to address sciatica pain can be crucial. You can actually cause more damage if you do them incorrectly. A chiropractor or physical therapist is trained to know and understand proper medical exercises and techniques so they can assist you firsthand to help you get out of pain and avoid further damage.
- Seek a professional. If you have been dealing with ongoing sciatica pain, it is important to see someone to avoid long-term damage. Sciatica is a musculoskeletal disorder, so it is critical that you seek help from a doctor who specializes in treating sciatic pain, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist.
If you are looking for relief from the pain associated with sciatica, call our offices today. Our doctors are knowledgeable and highly skilled at helping patients get non-invasive relief for their sciatica pain.