5 Ways To Relieve The Shooting, Burning Pain Of Sciatica
Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, explores five ways to relieve sciatica’s shooting and burning pain.
“Sciatica is not a condition but a set of symptoms,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.
“The sciatic nerve runs down each leg from the lower back and buttocks and is the longest nerve in the human body. Pain of varied degrees can come from irritation or compression of this nerve.”
Causes of Sciatica
Herniated Disc: This occurs when the inner core of a spinal disc protrudes, exerting pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing the spinal canal can compress nerve roots, resulting in sciatic symptoms.
Piriformis Syndrome: The sciatic nerve can become irritated when the piriformis muscle in the buttocks spasms or tightens.
Spondylolisthesis: When a vertebra shifts out of its normal position and compresses the nerve, it can lead to sciatica.
Trauma or Injury: Spinal injuries, such as fractures or dislocations, can potentially cause sciatica.
Degenerative Disc Disease: Over time, the discs that cushion the vertebrae can degenerate, narrowing the spinal canal and potentially irritating the sciatic nerve.
Pregnancy: Hormonal changes in pregnancy relax the ligaments and can render joints unstable, including those of the pelvis. The added weight and changes in posture during pregnancy can sometimes exert pressure on the sciatic nerve. The expanding uterus and the baby’s head can rest on the sciatic nerve.
Tumours: Rarely, tumours within or near the spine can compress the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica.
Symptoms of Sciatica
The most common symptoms of sciatica include sharp, shooting pain in the lower back, buttocks, and down one or both legs, numbness or tingling sensation in the legs or feet, pain when sitting or standing for extended periods and, in some cases, difficulty in controlling leg movements.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Standard diagnostic procedures for sciatica include:
- A thorough physical examination.
- A study of the patient’s medical history.
- Imaging tests like X-rays or MRIs to pinpoint the source of the pain.
Once diagnosed, various treatment options are available.
5 Ways to Relieve Sciatica
While some causes of sciatica are beyond one’s control, there are ways to relieve symptoms:
- Consult a Healthcare Professional
If you experience sciatica symptoms, seeking medical evaluation and diagnosis is crucial. A physician, chiropractor, or physical therapist can determine the underlying cause of your sciatica and recommend appropriate treatment options.
- Physical Therapy and Exercise
A physical therapist can design a personalised exercise programme to strengthen the muscles supporting the spine and improve flexibility. Exercises may include stretches, core strengthening, and low-impact aerobics activities.
- Heat and Cold Therapy
Muscle tension and pain can be alleviated using a heating pad or cold compress. Some people may respond well to alternating heat and cold treatments.
Over-the-counter medication can help reduce inflammation and relieve mild symptoms. To manage severe pain, prescription medications or muscle relaxants may be necessary.
- Epidural Steroid Injections
Epidural steroid injections have proven to be useful for individuals with severe and persistent sciatica pain. These injections deliver corticosteroids directly into the spinal canal to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. While they can provide temporary relief, they are not a long-term solution and should be used with other therapies.
Additional Tips for Sciatica Relief
In addition to the five methods mentioned above, there are several lifestyle modifications and self-care practices that can help manage sciatica:
- Maintain good posture: Proper posture can reduce pressure on the spine and alleviate sciatic pain. Avoid sitting for extended periods and use ergonomic chairs and support cushions when necessary.
- Use lumbar support: Place a lumbar roll or cushion behind your lower back when sitting to maintain the spine’s natural curve.
- Lift objects correctly: Bend at the knees and use your legs, not your back, to lift heavy objects. Avoid twisting while lifting.
- Sleep on a supportive mattress: A medium-firm mattress can provide adequate support for the spine and promote proper alignment.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Stress can exacerbate sciatic pain. Consider techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress and tension.
“Addressing sciatica requires a combination of treatments, lifestyle modifications, and self-care practices. Working with a healthcare professional to develop a comprehensive plan tailored to your specific needs is essential, ” Hewlett concludes.
About Affinity Health
Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.