Practical Sciatica Remedies To Alleviate Back and Leg Pain
Back pain is no laughing matter. Pain at the core of your body is distracting and can put you in a bad mood. Your back pain may be so severe that you are unable to work, so it’s important to find practical sciatica remedies to alleviate back and leg pain. Most people look for treatments they can perform at home, but if the problem persists, you may need medical intervention. Keep reading to find out what you can do to prevent excessive doctor’s visits for your back pain—and how to know when to call a doctor after all.
What Is Sciatica?
People refer to many types of back pain as sciatica, but true sciatica involves the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs down your lower back, through your buttocks, and down the sides of your legs. It is the longest and thickest nerve in the body; it is about the width of your finger. The sciatic nerve contains a system of five roots—two from the lower back and three from the spine.
Causes of Sciatica
You can get sciatica from an injury, or it can develop gradually. Sciatica results from something pressing on the sciatic nerve. Often, it is a herniated or slipped disk or a bone spur. Any compression, pinching, irritation, or inflammation of the sciatic nerve can cause sciatica.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica in Your Back
Most people first notice signs of sciatica in their back. Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints. When it comes to sciatica, back pain can range from mild to severe. The pain may be sharp and feel like stabbing. Conversely, some people with sciatica report the feeling of burning or an electric shock when their pain arrives. Your pain could be constant or may come and go with behaviors, such as sitting or standing for long periods or making sudden body movements.
Sciatica in Your Legs
Since the sciatic nerve runs through the buttocks and legs, individuals with sciatica experience symptoms in their hips and legs as well. Common symptoms of sciatica pain in the leg include:
- Muscle weakness
- Pins and needles
- Pain shooting down the leg
Pro Tip: Though sciatica can occur in both legs, you typically feel the pain in one or the other. Which leg you feel the pain in depends on where the nerve pinching occurs along your spine.
Home Remedies for Sciatica
Rest Your Back
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for back pain is to take a break. If inflammation is causing your sciatic nerve pain, you may need to give your back a rest. While this does not mean you should go on bed rest for weeks, do what feels good for your situation. Sit in postures that are comfortable, and let yourself lie down when you need to.
Get a Massage
A professional massage doesn’t just feel good; it can also improve movement in your lower back and increase blood circulation. Search for a massage therapist who specializes in back pain to assist you with your sciatica. In between sessions, you can use the FLX FITT mini deep tissue massage gun to keep your lower back muscles loose.
Yoga Stretches for Sciatica
The most practical sciatica remedies to alleviate back and leg pain are stretches. Yoga stretches work for sciatica because you can target your back and spine. The best yoga poses to try for sciatica include:
- Cobra Pose: Lay on your stomach with your palms facing down and your elbows squeezed against your body. Next, lift your head, chest, and shoulders to stretch your spine.
- Locust Pose: Lay on your stomach and then lift your head, chest, and arms as high as you can while engaging your glutes so that your legs lift off the ground as well. The pose strengthens your back and thighs while promoting circulation.
- Child’s Pose: Sit back on your knees with your arms stretched out in front of you. In this resting pose, you sink into your thighs and allow your hips to rest on your heels while your spine stretches and lengthens.
- Wind-Relieving Pose: Lay on your back and pull your legs to your chest to stretch your lower back. If it is more comfortable, you can do one leg at a time.
- Reclined Pigeon Pose: Lay on your back and bend one knee, placing your other ankle on it. If you would like a deeper stretch, pull your bended knee toward you to stretch your lower back and spine.
- Lord of the Fishes Pose: Cross one leg over the other and twist your body in the opposite direction. The pose builds strength while lengthening and stretching your spine.
Pro Tip: Listen to your body throughout the day! Try not to stay stuck in the same position, and stretch throughout the day in ways that feel good for your back, hips, and legs.
If your sciatica lasts longer than a day, apply heat to relieve the pain. Heat should loosen tightness and ease soreness. If pain persists, you can switch between hot and cold packs.
Pro Tip: Doctors typically recommend cold for injuries. If you injure your back, ice it on and off for 15 minutes at a time for the first few days.
Take Pain Reliever
Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen may help with your sciatic nerve pain. They can relieve your pain and inflammation at the same time. Take the recommended dose unless a doctor tells you otherwise.
Know When To See a Doctor for Sciatica
If your back pain persists for two weeks or more, see a doctor. Further, if you begin to experience bladder control issues or your symptoms worsen despite your home remedies, seek medical attention immediately. A medical professional will review your symptoms, take X-rays, and develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
Try Physical Therapy
Although you may have tried stretches at home, your doctors can recommend better ones that will target your specific problem. Physical therapists can design exercises for you that will take pressure off your sciatic nerve. Further, physical therapists will work with you on improving your posture so that you’ll reap the ongoing benefits.
Receive an Epidural
When conventional intervention doesn’t work, your doctor might recommend something more intensive. If your sciatica lasts more than six months, your doctor may suggest an epidural. An epidural is an injection of medicine near your spine.
Another method to alleviate back pain is acupuncture. Some people who experience sciatica benefit from this treatment that inserts thin needles into the skin to reduce inflammation.
Go Under the Knife
When nothing else works to alleviate your sciatica, surgery is often the last resort. Most people with sciatica don’t need surgery, but if your symptoms become so severe that you can’t walk or control your bladder, surgery can improve your way of life.
Understanding practical sciatica remedies to alleviate back and leg pain can help alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with being uncomfortable. Know that treatment is available, and you don’t have to live with back pain for your whole life once you find the right combination of methods. You may require a combination of stretching and massage or medications and acupuncture. What’s important is that it works for you.