Sciatica is caused due to irritation of a particular nerve in the human body. It happens to about four out of every ten people at some point in their lives. The sciatic nerve runs along either side of the lower spine, through the buttocks and pelvis, passes through the upper legs, and then divides at the knee. It also branches into the feet.
What causes sciatica pain?
When there is pressure or irritation on the nerve, it causes pain that shoots through the back of the legs. The pain will vary depending on the situation. A patient may also face weakness, numbness, and a tingling sensation along the nerve.
The pain becomes worse if the person sits, stands, sneezes, coughs, or strains their body for a long time. The best treatments for sciatica can provide relief and help the patient recover quickly.
Best treatment options for sciatica
The treatments vary from cold or hot packs to medications. Exercise is another remedy for sciatic nerve pain.
Medications for sciatica pain
People can use several medications for getting relief from sciatic pain. Here are some oral medications that can help:
- Over-the-counter medications like pain relievers provide temporary relief from sciatic pain. Few that help with the condition are acetylsalicylic acid, NSAIDs, ibuprofen, naproxen, and paracetamol.
- Doctors also prescribe muscle relaxants to calm muscle spasms.
- Antidepressants may also help with severe back pain.
It is important to note that children below the age of 18 should not take aspirin as it increases the risk of Reye’s syndrome. In a few cases, a doctor may inject steroids into space around the nerve. This type of medication can help reduce the irritation. It mostly works in cases where the cause of the irritation is a ruptured or herniated disc.
Exercises to get relief from sciatica pain
One of the best treatments for sciatica is physical exercise. However, in many cases, the pain caused by the condition may be so severe that patient might encounter difficulty in getting up. The common causes of the ailment are a ruptured disk, injury, or narrowing of the spinal canal. Consult a physiotherapist to understand different exercise routines.
Pain can occur from time to time and make a patient’s life difficult. Doing stretches can provide relief. Here are four exercises that are some of the best treatment options for sciatica pain.
Reclining pigeon pose
It is a common posture taught in yoga. It opens the hips and is an effective treatment for sciatica pain.
- You need to lie on your back and bring your right leg perpendicular to the ground.
- Clasp your hands together and interlock your fingers.
- Now lift your left leg and place your right ankle on your left knee.
- Stay in the position for a few seconds.
- Now perform the same exercise with the other leg.
Once you can do this stretch without experiencing any pain, you can move along to the sitting pigeon pose (after consulting your physical therapist). The pigeon pose is helpful in stretching a muscle called piriformis. It gets inflamed when pressed against the sciatic nerve.
Sitting pigeon pose
This pose is quite similar to the previous one. Here are the steps that you need to follow:
- Sit on the floor and stretch your legs in front of you.
- Now, bend the right leg and place your right ankle on the left knee.
- Lean forward and allow your upper body to reach your legs.
- Stay in this pose for about 30 seconds. The stretch helps your lower back and glutes.
- Do the same with the other side.
Forward pigeon pose
Another version of the pigeon pose, it is one of the best treatments for sciatica.
- First, kneel on your hands and feet.
- Lift your right leg and keep it forward on the ground. Lower your leg to the ground with your foot in front of your left knee.
- Now, stretch your left leg out behind you on the ground. Keep the top of your feet on the floor and keep the toes pointed backward.
- Shift the weight of your body from the arms to your legs. Now sit up with your hands on both sides of your legs.
- Take a deep breath in and when you exhale, lean your upper body forward.
You need to support the weight of your body on your arms as much as you can.
- Do the same on the other side as well.
Knee to the opposite shoulder
This simple stretch is effective in reducing the pain related to the sciatic nerve. It loosens the piriformis muscles and gluteal muscles, thus acting as one of the best treatments for sciatica.
- Lie on your back with your legs extended, and your feet pointed upwards.
- Now, bend your right leg and wrap your hands around your knee.
- Slowly put your right leg across your body, reaching to the left shoulder. Stay in this posture for about 30 seconds.
- After this, return to the first position and repeat the same with the other side.
It is important not to strain yourself too much while doing these exercises. Some of the best treatments that provide relief from sciatica pain include the sitting spinal stretch and the standing hamstring stretch. It is essential to do the exercises right, which is why you should consult a physiotherapist. You need to do these stretches under their guidance until you are confident. It might take more than a few days for you to start seeing positive results.