Sciatica is the pain referred to when the sciatic nerve is irritated and causes chronic pain. Most commonly, it is felt from the lower back down around the back of the thigh and can radiate down below the knee. Starting from nerve roots in your lower back (lumbar spine) and reaching through the buttocks area to supply nerve endings to your lower extremities, it is the largest nerve in your body. When the sciatic nerve is pressed upon, whether by a herniated disc or something else, it can cause painful sciatica, which is described as burning sensations, numbness, tingling and pain that radiates down the lower back along the buttocks, sometimes reaching down the thighs. While not life-threatening and rarely requiring surgery, sciatica therapy is frequently recommended. This therapy is generally a bit different from other types of back, neck, and shoulder pain therapy, and can include choosing the right chair for sitting all day in or using various types of pillows designed to ease pressure on the nerve during sitting, driving or sleeping. Your doctor may also advise you to carry out a specialized sciatica pain management or strength-training regimen (if your case does not require surgical intervention).
A progressive exercise program is sometimes recommended, depending on your physical condition and your pain levels. Doctors suggest a controlled program that works to reduce pain quickly and provide conditioning training that will help to lower the chances of it happening again. Exercise is recommended more often in terms of sciatica therapy than bed rest, which may be surprising because if you are suffering from back pain, the last thing you usually want to do is exercise. What seems to happen with sciatica patients is that while bed rest might feel good in the short term, by the time they get up and move around, the pain is worse. Progressive exercise programs start slow and gradually increase in frequency and intensity, so you will increase strength and flexibility. Core training programs, such as Pilates, are recommended for several reasons. It builds up your abdominal strength and helps take the strain off your back where the problem might originate. Any misalignment of your spine that is impinging upon the sciatic nerve might be helped with core training. This will straighten you out, improve your flexibility and benefit the affected areas with improved blood flow and oxygenation.
Not all causes for sciatica are the same, and not all exercises are recommended in every case. Some exercises may in fact harm you more than help you and doing the wrong exercise can aggravate the sciatic pain. One exercise that seems to help just about everybody however, is stretching the hamstrings. If your hamstrings are too tight, that causes pressure on the sciatic nerve and can worsen your situation. With all exercise, listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. While your body is in pain and adjusting to an ever-increasing exercise regimen, holistic tools can provide pain relief in the short term until your overall posture is improved. Certainly, they provide pain relief without the need for chemicals. Utilizing wedge pillows, body pillows used for correcting sleep posture, topical pain relief creams, and adjustable work/task chairs can bring your entire pain level down while you nurse your body back into alignment.
It is important that you get a sciatica therapy program designed specifically for you and that you try all the techniques for pain relief that you can in your quest to manage sciatica.
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Written By: Updated: June 30,2011