Having sciatica makes it challenging to get around and feel comfortable while sitting or lying down. The bad news is that this condition indicates that something is putting pressure on the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back to your feet, which is why you feel pain. The good news is that sciatica usually doesn’t last long and can often be treated with self-care measures at home. That means you shouldn’t have to worry about having to take prescription pain medications, receive steroid injections or undergo surgery. The following are some of the ways that you can treat sciatica at home.
1. Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
If your back pain is making it difficult for you to focus on work or find a comfortable position for sitting, standing or lying down, taking an over-the-counter medication can give you short-term relief. Ibuprofen and naproxen are common types of OTC pain relievers that help ease discomfort temporarily. These medications aren’t as powerful as prescription pain relievers, but they also carry fewer risks of side effects or adverse reactions.
2. Cold Treatments
Putting a cold pack or some ice cubes wrapped in a washcloth or towel on the affected area can provide some relief when you first get sciatica. Leave the cold on your back for about 20 minutes at a time. You can apply cold several times throughout the day for two or three days.
3. Heat Treatments
If you’ve been dealing with sciatica pain for awhile, applying heat to the affected area might help. You can use a heating pad on a low setting or a hot pack that you wear on your body. These can be used for longer periods of time than cold or ice packs. Always remember to take the hot pack off or turn the heating pad off before falling asleep, so you don’t risk burning yourself.
4. Stretches for Back Pain
Performing some basic stretches that focus on your lower back helps keep your muscles flexible and can reduce pain and stiffness. It’s important to do these stretches in slow, smooth motions instead of making sudden movements that could end up causing you more pain. Hold the stretches for about 30 seconds.
5. Light Activity
You don’t have to stay in bed or avoid doing regular activities when you have sciatica. In fact, staying inactive for more than a day or two after the pain starts can make you feel worse and prolong the healing process. Do as much as you can handle, but be careful not to push yourself too much.
What happens if you try all of these suggestions and your sciatica doesn’t improve? You still don’t have to resort to prescription pain pills or surgery just yet. There are other forms of treatment for sciatica that might help instead. Acupuncture, chiropractic care and Functional Disc Rehydration are all examples of alternative, nonsurgical treatment methods that can be effective at treating sciatica.
If you need more than self-care measures for sciatica, contact the Illinois Back Institute to learn more about our nonsurgical treatment methods. We offer noninvasive and highly effective ways to reduce back pain.