Sciatica pain can be more than a nuisance; it can be downright debilitating. It can strike at any moment, sometimes with no warning. Let’s talk about exactly what it is, what causes it, and importantly, how to reduce sciatica pain.
What is Sciatica Pain?
To better combat sciatica pain, it helps to understand what it is and what causes it.
Sciatica pain is characterized by discomfort in the lower back radiating down into the glutes and, in some cases, the backs of the legs. The pain varies case to case, from a mild ache to extreme pain that feels almost like burning.
It’s caused by the compression of a nerve, typically due to a herniated disk or the narrowing of the spaces in the spine, also called spinal stenosis.
Several factors can contribute to the causes of sciatica. With age comes changes in the spine, which may add pressure to the back. Obesity also increases stress on the lower back due to the added weight, which then leads to changes in the spine that can trigger sciatica.
Another common cause of sciatica is prolonged or excessive pressure on the lower back. This can be due to living a sedentary lifestyle, or jobs that entail a lot of twisting of the back.
Mild cases of sciatica typically go away over time, but not all of us want to wait for the pain to go away on its own. So, what can you do to encourage your own healing and recovery?
How to Reduce Sciatica Pain
Fortunately, there are ways to relieve sciatica pain without having to take medication.
Consume More Foods and Beverages With Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Examples include fruits and vegetables, fiber-packed food like whole grains, and foods rich in omega-3, like salmon and other fatty fish.
Aromatics such as turmeric and ginger, as well as green and black tea, also offer the benefit of anti-inflammatory properties.
A few supplements widely considered to potentially reduce inflammation and improve nerve health include vitamin E, zinc, B vitamins.
Additionally, you might find that it’s best to avoid consuming food and beverages containing refined carbohydrates, trans fat, and sugar, as these can aggravate inflammation.
Exercises and Stretches for Sciatica
It’s vital to strengthen the back muscles to aid in the long-term improvement of sciatica and relieve sciatica pain. Engage in regular non-strenuous exercises such as daily walks or simple core exercises. Be sure to ease into the activity and not overexert yourself—the objective is to sustainably build strength without worsening the condition.
Enhance spinal strength, flexibility, and range of motion through gentle stretching exercises for sciatica. Again, take care not to do anything strenuous. If it’s aggravating your sciatica pain further, you’re on the wrong track. Instead, focus on relieving the stress affecting the lower back. This shouldn’t hurt, and it shouldn’t make your pain worse.
Aside from stretching, certain types of massage can help—like shiatsu, which uses stretching techniques and pressure from the fingers and palms. Myofascial release, a manual therapy that stretches the muscles to improve movement, is another powerful form of treatment.
Switch Between Hot and Cold
Alternately applying ice packs and heating pads to the affected area can help reduce pain in the lower back. The cold can help suppress inflammation, while heat can stimulate blood flow and minimize muscle spasms that can come with sciatica.
When using a cold compress or ice pack, try applying it once every hour for 15 minutes. Importantly, keep in mind here that more isn’t necessarily better. When applying heat with a hot compress or heating pad, apply every two or three hours for 15 minutes. Make sure to protect the skin from the compress with a thin towel or layer of clothing.
Relax and Strengthen Your Muscles With EMS
Supplement your exercise routine and speed up recovery from sciatica with electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS. This is a type of physical therapy where low-voltage electric impulses are applied to the skin and stimulate the contraction of key muscle groups.
Electric muscle stimulation triggers contractions to help relax and strengthen the muscles. It can help to aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of muscles and to promote oxygenated blood flow.
Natural Pain Relief With TENS
Using TENS for sciatica is one of the most efficient ways to target your exact area of pain and focus on healing with laser precision.
While electric muscle stimulation works largely on strengthening and stimulating muscles, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, targets the nerves and is designed for the specific purpose of pain relief. This is the biggest difference between EMS and TENS.
The electric currents stimulate the nerve cells to suppress pain transmission and induce the release of endorphins. This method offers several advantages for those suffering from sciatica nerve pain: It’s safe, easy to use, it can conveniently be done in the comfort of one’s home, and it’s a natural and non-addictive form of pain relief.
Essentially, by using TENS for sciatica, you’re doing two things: Encouraging the release of your body’s natural painkillers in order to fight that pain, and closing off your brain’s ability to register pain signals.
PowerDot offers customized programming for both electric muscle stimulation and TENS. In fact, it’s so effective at combating sciatica pain that we’ve created a pain relief program specifically for this purpose. Once you log into the PowerDot app, tap on Smart Pain Relief, and then scroll down to the Leg/Foot section. Under that, tap on Sciatica Nerve.
On the next screen, you’ll see that you can choose from acute pain, chronic pain, and radiating pain. From there, you’ll be able to further customize your programming by specifying what the pain is related to (injury, surgery, etc.), as well as your maximum level of pain.
If you’re looking for a safe, effective, natural, and science-backed way to alleviate your sciatica nerve pain and rehabilitate your lower back for long-term improvement, PowerDot is the only FDA-approved smart muscle stimulator on the market. With its Smart TENS and NMES capabilities, it allows you to customize your experience based on your specific area of pain, the type of pain being experienced, and your pain tolerance.
It’s the perfect partner to speed up muscle recovery, relieve sciatica pain naturally, improve endurance and strength, and massage muscle tension away.
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Learn more about how to relieve chronic back pain.