How to Alleviate Sciatica and Prevent it From Returning

A compressed sciatic nerve gets in the way of daily activity. You feel numbness, tingling, and weakness run down your leg and even into your foot. It can be especially intense when you stand up from a time of sitting (like in the car) or after a long day of standing. The technical name for the distinct pain that radiates down your leg is radiculopathy, and it is sometimes compared to the nerve pain you feel with an especially bad toothache.

The reasons for sciatic pain

Shooting pain that runs down your leg may be due to a pinched sciatic nerve, which is located in your lower spine. The nerve runs down your buttocks and legs to your feet. When the nerve root is pinched or compressed, you feel pain shooting down your leg.

Your sciatic nerve may become compressed due to a:

The team at Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation, PC can help you determine which of these causes is likely at the root of your sciatic pain. This can help inform treatment so you find relief.

Sciatica treatments

The best approach to finding relief depends on several factors, including how the sciatic nerve is compressed, as well as your own response to certain things. You may find that ice packs

applied to your lower back helps offer relief. We may also suggest gentle heat, as from a heating pad. If a tight muscle is the cause of your pain, the most effective treatment likely won’t be the same as if spinal stenosis is the cause.

Our physical therapists are happy to provide consultation and advice on things you can try to relieve the

A combination of these therapies is often the best strategy to resolve your pain.

You can help ease sciatica, too

Take healing action at home between treatments at Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation, PC. You may want to experiment and see what works best for you.

Yoga stretches

Certain forms of yoga appear to improve sciatica pain for some people. If your pain is the result of compressed nerves, it makes sense that the gentle stretching could help to relieve

irritation. The team at Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation, PC can help you find a class that works for you.

Gentle exercise

You might think walking is contraindicated if your buttocks, legs and feet hurt. Gentle, low- or nonimpact exercise can actually help, though. Through exercise, you release healing endorphins and can help reduce inflammation. You may need to begin slowly with just a five-minute walk and slowly increase in order to build up your endurance.

Water exercise

Water’s buoyancy helps alleviate compression on the joints, which aggravates sciatica. Water aerobics or walking in a pool may be better for you if regular walking is too painful. You get the same endorphin boost, and you may find water to be soothing — especially if you have access to a heated pool.

Hot and cold therapy

Before you do any gentle exercise, applying a little heat to your lower back can warm up the muscles and make your activity more comfortable. Be sure to gently stretch following the application of heat. Use an ice pack following your walk or another workout. It can reduce inflammation, and less inflammation means less pain.

If you find relief from ice and heat therapy, use it at any time. You may find that using a heating pad for a moment or two before getting out of bed helps or that ice at the end of the day reduces your pain.

The therapists and staff at Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation, PC are happy to answer any questions you may have and to offer suggestions on activities and at-home

treatments to try. Schedule a consultation to learn more about your sciatica treatment options.

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