There are a few conditions that are more unpleasant and distracting that sciatic nerve pain. This is pain caused by pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve, or by other forms of irritation. Either way, this means disruption for the largest nerve in the human body and that can in turn interrupt the flow of information to the brain from the legs and vice versa. This can then result in discomfort as the nerve sends faulty pain signals but it can also lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, and even difficulty moving the desired limb.
If you’ve ever woken up in the night and found that you’ve been lying on your arm in an awkward way, then you may be familiar with how this makes it difficult to the move the limb and how it causes it to become weak, numb and even somewhat ‘floppy’. And it may hurt.
This is precisely what is happening in sciatica, expect it is happening in the long term with no relief in sight.
Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the pain.
1. Take a Warm Bath
A warm bath can often help to provide sciatica pain relief and it does this in a number of ways. Firstly, a warm back provides warmth around the affected area, which can help to interfere with the pain signal and providing soothing comfort.
At the same time, a warm bath will also help to relax the surrounding muscle. This latter point is very important and particularly in cases where the sciatica is being caused by problems with the muscle. If the muscle is spasming, if it is torn, or if it is sprained, then all these problems can lead to inflammation that places pressure on the area.
Take a warm bath and you can reduce this swelling and relax the muscle.
Another great way to help relax the muscle and thereby relieve some pain is by taking supplements. One supplement that is well known to relax muscle is magnesium. This is actually one of the key components released in the brain which helps us to relax as we fall asleep.
Magnesium threonate has been shown in studies to be particularly useful to this end. Another option is to drink warm milk, which many people find comforting and particularly enjoy just prior to going to sleep.
3. Valerian Root
If you’re looking for supplements that will relax the muscle, then another great one to consider is valerian root. This is a herbal remedy often used to help aid sleep. Once again, it can help to relax the muscles and thereby put you in a relaxed state ready for bed.
Valerian root is also a great choice for anyone who struggles to get to sleep, or who particularly feels back pain during the night. This is actually common, seeing as during the night we are not consciously able to avoid positions that place more pressure on the nerve.
If you’re struggling to sleep, then just take the valerian root before you hit the sack with some warm milk and you may sleep better and feel less pain during the night.
Sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer. That may well be the case for lower back pain, which can be treated very simply with pain medication (analgesics). Any of these will work, seeing as they operate by altering the way that pain signals are handled in the brain.
However, the best kinds to take are those that will also reduce inflammation – seeing as this is very likely a primary cause of the pain, to begin with. Good examples of analgesics that also fight inflammation include aspirin and ibuprofen.
You might find a topical agent works even better. This means it’s a cream that you’ll run into a specific region. In this case, take some capsaicin cream and rub into the lower back, or try some ibuprofen gel.
It is always important to consult with your GP prior to attempting any form of pain relief for your sciatica. However, if you have spoken with them and they give you the go-ahead, this can often be an easy move that offers some useful relief.
Simply find yourself a pull-up bar or similar, grab onto it, and then allow your body to hang. The weight of your lower body will that way stretch out your spine, pulling the vertebrae ever so slightly apart from one another and thereby reducing pressure on the nerve. Again, make sure you are certain to check with your physician first.
Another move you can administer yourself is to rock on your spine slightly. Lie on your back and bring your knees up to your chest. Wrap your arms around them and now rock backward and forwards ever so slightly. This move is best practiced on either a soft carpet or an exercise mat.
Either way, you are once again opening up the vertebrae in order to give yourself some relief. At the same time, you will be essentially ‘massaging’ the lower portion of your spine this way.
7. Cold Compress
As with any form of inflammation, ice can be used to help reduce it and to give yourself some relief. Ice not only numbs the surrounding area but also helps to bring down the inflammation, thereby helping you to release the pressure that might be affecting the nerve. Even where pressure isn’t caused by inflammation, just the numbing effect can be enough.
Just make sure that when you use this method, you do not apply cold ice or a cold pack directly to the skin. There should always be a cloth of some sort between the ice and the skin and you should never maintain contact for more than 10 minutes at a time without breaks.
8. Warm Compress
Just as taking a warm bath can help to reduce inflammation, so too can a warm compress.
There are subtle differences in the use of warm and cool compresses. Heat brings more blood to the area and reduces joint stiffness. It should not be used 48 hours following an injury. Cold numbs the area and reduces swelling.
Therefore, heat is best used later on during recovery from a specific impact, bruising or fracture, and not immediately following the event itself.
9. Support During the Night
As mentioned, sciatica can sometimes feel worse during the night. This is because of your position and if you find yourself rolling onto your side, or if your mattress doesn’t offer enough support, then that can end up placing more pressure on the nerve and causing more pain.
One way to solve this to some extent is to find a firm pillow or similar and place it under the small of your back. This can help to keep it in position and makes it harder for you to roll over in the night as well.
10. Visit a Chiropractor
A chiropractor is a professional that will offer realignment and adjustment of the spine in order to help treat a wide range of different conditions. You’d be amazed how a slight alteration to your posture or your alignment in a seemingly unrelated area can lead to knock-on effects throughout the body and ultimately relieve pain located somewhere entirely different!
This is certainly the case with sciatica in many cases. So, if you’re struggling with this pain, try visiting a local chiropractor and they may just be able to help!