Sciatica – Symptoms and Simple Pain Relief Methods

13/06/2019

Sciatica pain can be debilitating, and it is vital that your condition is closely monitored by your doctor and physiotherapist. Unfortunately, sciatica is often misdiagnosed – and this can lead to ineffective treatment which may cause pain to worsen. In this blog post, we will highlight the typical symptoms and causes of sciatica, and we’ll also offer up some simple pain relief methods you can practice at home.

What is Sciatica?

Humans are equipped with a sciatic nerve running down the lower back, through the buttocks and hamstrings before reaching the lower leg. It is not uncommon for active people to damage this nerve during physical activity, but it is also prone to irritation and pinching.

All the above can contribute to acute leg pain, and the term used to describe this pain is ‘sciatica’. This condition primarily affects people aged 30-50 years, and causes will vary from individual to individual. It could be due to general wear and tear, or it could be due to a lumbar bulging disc, spine degeneration, facet joint injuries or a number of other factors.

Where is Pain Felt?

You will normally notice pain within your lower back, and this may spread to other areas of your lower body. Pain can range from dull to sharp, and some people may experience a burning sensation. It is important that you seek a professional diagnosis as quickly as possible to minimise the risk of permanent nerve damage. Your doctor or physiotherapist will be able to narrow down the root cause of the problem, with some of the most common being:

  • Lumbar disc herniation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Narrowing of the spine

Treatment of Sciatica

Your physiotherapist will advise you on the best course of treatment. This usually includes a mix of exercise, strengthening exercises and dry needling. If you follow the recommended course of treatment, pain should begin to subside within around 3 months.

Try These 3 Easy Home Treatment Options

If you experience a flare up, try the following helpful tips to reduce the pain. You should also seek advice from your physio as soon as practicable.

  1. Heat or Ice Packs

Heat and ice packs have long been the go-to option for immediate pain relief, and it’s worth keeping a few on hand in case of a flare up.

Ice: Use an ice pack wrapped in a soft towel OR wrap ice blocks from the freezer. Put the ice pack on your lower back and leave it for around 15 minutes. This will assist in reducing inflammation and pain.

Heat Therapy: Using a hot water bottle or electric heating pad, place the heating device against the affected area for between 10-20 minutes. Heat therapy will help to stimulate blood flow whilst also relaxing muscles and reducing pain.

  1. Massage

You can use a tennis ball to massage the affected area. Simply place the ball on your buttock or upper thigh and roll back and forth. You will quickly identify the area most in need of massage. Don’t be rough, all you need is a little bit of gentle pressure to ease the pain.

  1. Exercise

It can be hard to know what exercises are right to do. Some may help alleviate your symptoms and some may make you worse. It is best to consult your physio before starting exercises especially if your pain is severe.

Suffering Sciatica Pain? Contact Erko Physio Today

If sciatica pain is giving you trouble, we would love to help. The friendly and professional team of physiotherapists at Erko Physio can confidently diagnose and treat your condition, helping you regain full physical function and minimising the risk of permanent nerve damage. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.