Sciatica Pain Relief

Experienced by many people around the world and even famous people like Johnny Depp and Debbie Allen, Sciatica can be so painful, it can be difficult even to walk. There are many treatment options out there and it can be overwhelming and frustrating when you have been suffering from pain for weeks or even months without answers. Severe sciatica pain is no stranger to me and it took months before coming across a treatment that actually helped. If nothing else, I hope you take away from this article the option of lumbar traction as a tool at your disposal in case you haven’t already come across it in your research. In my case, lumber traction was the key to reaching my full recovery from sciatica pain so I believe it is worth mentioning right away so that everyone gets a chance to know about it before taking on surgery or giving into chronic pain. Depending on what stage you are in, aside from traction, there are different exercises, stretches, and therapies to do as you work towards full sciatica pain relief.

I hope to extend to you helpful resources, like my free 10-day mini course, that will get you over your frustration with lower back pain and sciatica and on the road to recovery. To make your learning experience straightforward I will cover all basis of the spine, how it works, and why you are experiencing these painful symptoms of nerve pain down your leg. Knowledge and understanding is the first step to knowing what to do for yourself in this situation. Personally, I found the more I learned about how my spine worked and what exactly was the cause, I could then truly focus on what I needed to do. I look forward to sharing the various sciatica pain relief techniques out there as well as the ones that have helped me. However, always be cautious by first consulting your medical professional before attempting any type of self-treatment.

 CONTENTS

 

Sciatica Pain Relief with Lumbar Traction

Let me start by sharing with you the usefulness of lumbar traction for sciatica pain relief. It is a tool I wished I had known about long before six months into my sciatic nerve pain. It was a tool I had no idea existed and this is why I feel it is so important to mention it right away. It is the safest way of stretching out your lower spine when done with the guidance of a physiotherapist. Pictured below is the Saunders Lumbar Traction unit that can be purchased by the patient to be used at home (for purchasing options click here). By strapping into this unit and pumping up the pressure with a hand-held pump you can actually pull apart your vertebrae and stretch your deep spinal muscles.

Saunders Lumbar Traction

This form of deep stretch creates more space for compressed discs and nerves in the spine to be released, thus, the sciatic nerve is less pinched and can have a better chance to heal. Your physiotherapist will have to advise you when you will be ready to start using lumbar traction and the amount of pressure to apply so talk to your physiotherapist like I did. Amazingly, I noticed sciatica pain relief after the first use and after a few weeks my physiotherapist was amazed at my increase in flexibility and no complaint of lower back or leg pain. Now that I am fully recovered and it’s been years since I had sciatica I find this great for releasing stress in my lower back when I come home from a long shift at work. Avoiding surgery was the best thing I could ever do for myself because I was told by my surgeon that I consulted that I would increase my chances of getting arthritis in my back when I’m older if I went through with the surgery.

Avoiding Surgery

The Saunders Lumbar Traction unit has been proven to be an alternative to back surgery and it sure was for me. Before I had a chance to find out about lumbar traction I was so frustrated with not reaching full sciatica pain relief that I was considering surgery. It was lumbar traction that got me past my plateau and gave me the hope I needed to look forward to doing the activities I loved to do before. I was so excited when my physiotherapist told me that I could now go back to skiing or horseback riding because all this time he was telling me I could never ski or ride a horse again in my life! That’s when I felt normal again. Surgery in some cases is necessary like when symptoms get so severe that is affects your bladder or bowel control or sexual performance. This is an emergency situation to take seriously and seek medical attention right away. In many cases herniated discs recover without any medical intervention but if non-surgical treatment has not improved the symptoms within 6 weeks then surgery can be discussed with your doctor. However, most doctors and surgeons tend to advise their patients to try their best to avoid surgery because of the complications, risks and future limitations. The different types of surgeries available to you typically are open discectomy, endoscopic microdiscectomy, percutaneous discectomy, laminotomy, and laminectomy. Each of these types of surgeries attempt the same thing of going in and removing the tissue that is impinging on your nerves in your spine. Some are less invasive than others.

 

Physiotherapy for Sciatica

In my experience, it is important to find a well versed physiotherapist. Unfortunately though, the first experience I had with a physiotherapist was not great and I felt in more pain after the first treatment so I turned to chiropractic. Trying chiropractic for a few weeks started to get too expensive and I wasn’t making progress, in fact, my leg got weaker and the pain was so great I could not walk for longer than a minute. I was then convinced by a friend to visit her physiotherapist that was trained in Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) and that became something he used often on my tight sore muscles. IMS is a “magical” treatment for knotted sore muscles that just can’t be resolved with massage therapy. Using long acupuncture needles, the physiotherapist trained in IMS will gently insert the needle into the heart of the muscle, the muscle instantly cramps up as it grasps the needle, then relaxes. Targeting tight muscles in your lower back, buttock, and affected leg muscles is going to make it much easier to do stretches and regain flexibility lost by sciatica.

 

Stretches for Sciatica Pain Relief

There are a few key stretches that you can start doing gradually and these are typically shown to the patient by their physiotherapist. Following stretches regularly is going to increase your flexibility, relax tight muscles, and reduce compression of your nerve.

Back Extension

This is the primary stretch for taking pressure off a compressed disc and encouraging your natural lumbar curve. We tend to lose our natural lower curve when sitting for long hours or frequently bending over. Lying on your belly on the floor or bed, take your time to relax all your tense muscles throughout your body while you do some deep breathing. Now gradually transition to rest your upper body on your forearms and lift only your torso off the floor keeping your hips grounded. Graduate from resting on forearms to hands only when you are ready. This will extend you backwards and stretch your lower spine. Make sure you do not increase pain down your leg.

Back Extension

Gluteal Stretch

The muscles in your buttocks tend to become tight with sciatica and need to be stretched as well. If your sciatica is due to a tight Piriformis muscle pinching the sciatic nerve rather than being compressed within the spine then this will be an excellent stretch for this muscle as well.

Start on all fours then cross one foot in front of the other. Now gradually lower down by bringing your back leg out further while keeping your upper torso supported with your hands.

Gluteal Stretch

Calf Stretch

Because all muscles are connected, if one is tight, the other will be pulled out of whack too. This is why it is important to stretch out your calf as well if it is tight. Simply face a wall a few feet away and step with one foot forward, touching the wall. Now bring your upper torso towards the wall by bending your front leg while keeping your back leg straight. Both feet are flat on the ground. You will feel a calf stretch in your back leg.

 

Key Strengthening Exercises

Weak back and abdominal muscles leads to back injuries and you need to stabilize your lower spine with strengthening routines that will reduce irritation of your injured nerve.

Core Stabilization

You must avoid crunches that put too much stress on your back instead here is a safer exercise for your core. Lying on your back with your hands on your hips, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and making sure you have a slight lumbar cure, engage your deep core stabilizing muscles. Very closely monitor your hips to make sure the do not move at all. You want to teach your muscles to prevent your hips from twisting when moving your legs. Now lift one leg up then set it down again in a gradual, controlled manner. Alternate legs.

Core Stabilizing

Throughout your day, especially when walking, you want to always engage your core to stabilize your lower back to reduce movement so as to prevent more irritation to your pinched nerve.

Back Strengthening

Strengthening your back with this simple exercise is going to help you maintain correct posture and reduce injury. Start on all fours then lift one arm straight up together with opposite leg. Then switch to the other arm and leg.

Back strengthening

Sciatica can also cause muscle weakness in the affected leg so it is important to regain this strength with leg strengthening exercises like alternating leg lunges.

 

Sitting, Bending, and Sleeping without Pain

Sciatica causes relentless pain that can keep you up at night, make it difficult to put on socks or shoes, and make sitting at your desk impossible. To make your life a lot easier here are some great alternative ways of getting on with your day without increasing your sciatic pain too much.

Back Brace

Consider getting a simple lower back brace that goes on and tightens with Velcro straps. This will teach you proper posture and proper bending technique to prevent you from rounding your lower back. It is great when you are on your feet all day and find yourself doing a lot of bending.

Proper Bending

When leaning forwards to work over something always bend from the hips by sticking your bottom out so you don’t round your back at all. If going to pick something up, whether heavy or not, always keep a straight back as you bend down with your knees to lower down to the floor. Lift with your legs and never your back.

Sciatica Pain Relief While Sitting

Anytime you are sitting, either at work or while watching TV, grab either a small pillow or a rolled up towel to put behind your lower back. This will encourage your natural lumbar curve and take a whole lot of pressure off your bottom.

Finding your Sleep Position

I used several different positions and you will have to try them out to see what will help you. Using two extra pillows, I would have one between my knees and one very small one under my side just above my hip when I was sleeping on my side. When sleeping on my back it helped sometimes to bend my legs up and rest them on a couple big pillows. Most of the time, however, I liked to sleep on my belly with a thin pillow under my hips.

Majority of new sciatica pain cases will recover within 6 weeks. A small number develop chronic sciatica after long-term nerve damage. That is why it is important to start taking care of your back and seek sciatica pain relief sooner than later.

 

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Regina (10 Posts)

I have firsthand experience of battling sciatica pain for over half a year before I found complete recovery. It was due to miss diagnosis and running into the wrong doctors for advice. It wasn't until I found the right physiotherapist that I found myself starting to recover but I reached a plateau and had to find something to fully recover. For me that was lumbar traction and it was truly my saving grace to finally be able to do the activities I love doing again.


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