Sciatica is pain that occurs along the large sciatic nerve, the body’s largest nerve. It’s located in the lumbar region and runs down the length of each leg. It most commonly affects people who sit for long periods of time or live a sedentary lifestyle. Additional risk factors for sciatica include aging, obesity, diabetes and occupations or hobbies that are hard on the back.
What Causes Sciatica?
The most common cause of sciatica is from a herniated disk, which occurs when a spinal disk slips out of place and puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. However, nerve inflammation and irritation can cause sciatica. Nerve sensitivity can come from injury, infection, bone overgrowth, tumors, internal bleeding or nearby muscle irritation. It can also occur during pregnancy.
Sciatica usually goes away on its own, with the condition lasting less than a week when remedied with proper self-care.
What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
Sciatica symptoms can be present in the lower back, buttocks, legs or hips. Pain may be present in all of these areas, or just one. Sciatica pain also varies greatly, ranging from mild aches to debilitating jolts. In most cases, only one side of the body is impacted by sciatica.
Common symptoms of sciatica include:
Pain that radiates down the leg
Burning or tingling in the leg
Discomfort along the nerve’s path
If you experience sciatica along with any of the following side effects, contact your doctor immediately:
Incontinence / loss of bowel control
Loss of feeling
Weakness in the leg
Self-Care Solutions for Sciatica
Mild sciatica typically resolves on its own. It’s estimated that up to 90% of people with sciatica recover without surgery. Here are some of the best self-care solutions for sciatica:
Cold Therapy: For the first two days of sciatica pain, cold packs may help alleviate some of the symptoms. Apply a cold pack wrapped in a towel directly to the source of pain for up to 20 minutes, several times a day.
Hot Therapy: After a couple days of cold therapy, you can try introducing hot therapy to alleviate sciatica symptoms. Heat pads, hot packs or a heat lamp can be used and may be alternated with cold therapy if desired.
Short-Term Rest: A single day of rest can help relieve sciatica symptoms when they first appear. However, resting for longer than 24 hours can worsen the problem. Use rest as a very temporary self-care measure only.
Yoga & Stretching: Long stretches can help alleviate sciatica pain, by decompressing some of the nerve. Try beginner yoga poses and ease into each stretch gently and hold it for at least 30 seconds. Practice in the mornings when the body is most tight to help prevent pain throughout the day.
Posture & Core Strengthening: Core strengthening is an important preventative and long-term care measure for sciatica, improving muscle strength, posture and flexibility. Once symptoms of sciatica are alleviated, a core strengthening regime can begin.
Relax The Back Products for Sciatica
Choose Relax The Back for high-quality ergonomic and wellness solutions for sciatica-relief. Our range of spinal-health products can help correct alignment, decompress nerve tension and prevent injury. Here are some of our top products for sciatic pain relief and prevention:
Recliners: An excellent recliner will help support the back and can help alleviate sciatica symptoms. Recliners are a better option than regular chairs and can provide comfort and support for sciatica prevention.
Back Supports & Wedges: Wedges and back supports for your car and chairs at home can help position the back properly. With correct low back support, you can alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve and reduce pain.
Lumbar Support:Sciatica starts in the lumbar region, which is often tight or has weakened due to sedentary lifestyle. Correct your posture and help properly position your back with lumbar support.
Footrests: A good footrest will keep your body positioned well. This can help prevent and alleviate sciatica and other back problems.
Sciatica Buying Guide
What Kind Of Chair Is Best For Sciatica?
The best chair for sciatica is one with adjustable features that can provide strong support for your lower back and prevent excessive pressure from being put on your legs. Look for chairs that have a curved waterfall edge at the front and a seat that is tilted forward, which will relieve pressure on your thighs. Combining this with a footrest can help promote good blood circulation, and relieve pain. In addition to being able to adjust the height in order to make sure your thighs are not under pressure, a good chair for sciatica should have significant lumbar support for your lower back.
Does a kneeling chair help sciatica?
Yes. Kneeling chairs have been known to help relieve sciatica pain. These unconventional chairs can help improve posture as well as reduce pressure on the lower back and thighs. By opening the hips, where the sciatica nerve is, our weight is more evenly distributed and our spine assumes a more neutral position more naturally than it does when sitting in a regular chair that keeps your hips at a 90 degree angle to your body.
Are zero gravity chairs good for sciatica?
Yes. Zero gravity chairs are popular among people who suffer from sciatica pain, and for good reason. They give the entire body (and especially the lower back) a chance to fully relax in a neutral position: pressure on the back is greatly reduced when sitting in a zero gravity chair, and good blood circulation is promoted. Zero gravity chairs also help with spinal realignment and spinal decompression, which are shown to help alleviate sciatica pain.
Can Massage Help With Sciatica Pain?
Massage can be an essential tool in easing sciatica pain, relaxing tense muscles and promoting relaxation. Tense muscles can be putting even more pressure on the sciatic nerve, and massage allows them to loosen. The stress that can accompany chronic pain can also be relieved with massage, releasing endorphins and encouraging the body to heal. Sciatica pain can be caused by a myriad of factors, and it’s important to understand what the underlying cause of the pain is in order to treat it appropriately.
How To Massage Sciatica Nerve
There are several ways to massage your sciatica nerve, it is good to try out different methods to find what works best for you.
Tennis Ball Method - use a single tennis ball behind you while seated in a chair, gently pressing backwards to massage lower back muscles. Alternatively, tape two tennis balls together and place them under your leg or back while you are resting on the floor.
Palm Method - using only your hands, place your hands on your lower back with your thumbs pointing towards your spine and your palms flat on your sides, apply pressure slowly towards the middle of your spine.
Deep Tissue Massage - research has shown that frequent deep tissue massages can help relieve sciatica pain. Seek out a licensed massage therapist to administer this treatment.