What is sciatica?
Your sciatic nerve starts from your spinal cord and runs down your hips, buttocks, and legs. Not only is it the longest nerve in your body, but it is also one of the most important nerves, affecting your ability to feel your legs and control them. When your sciatic nerve is irritated or pinched, it causes you pain, numbness, or a burning sensation called sciatica. Sciatica is usually caused by a herniated disc or other spinal issue which compresses part of the sciatic nerve. When the sciatic nerve is irritated, pinched, or compressed by another issue, you will experience pain or numbness anywhere from your lower back down to your feet (usually just on one side of you body).
While everyone is different, you could experience pain relief within a few weeks if you follow the right procedure. Read the “How to relieve your pain” section below to skip ahead to pain relief.
SymptomsThere are many symptoms that accompany sciatica, some more serious than others. Sometimes there are simple stretches you can do to relieve sciatica pain. Click on this blog link to read about stretches you can do to relieve sciatica pain. There are also tools you can use to relieve the pain quickly. Click here to see a tool that can help you relieve your sciatica pain quickly and easily. Other times, you might need to see a doctor to help reduce your sciatica pain. Here are the most common symptoms of sciatica:
- Radiating pain along the sciatic nerve (usually anywhere from your lower back and buttocks to your foot)
- Only one side of your body experiences pain
- Sometimes accompanied with a history of herniated discs or other spinal issues
- Mild ache, sharp burning sensation, or excruciating pain anywhere from your lower back to your foot
- Electric shock or jolt running down you leg
- Pain worsens during a cough or sneeze or after sitting for a long time
- Numbness or tingling
When to see a doctorYour pain might go away on its own in time. Read here to see what you can do to help relieve pain faster. If your pain doesn’t go away in a week or if your pain becomes worse or unbearable, call your doctor. Get immediate medical help if you experience these symptoms:
- Sudden, severe pain and numbness or muscle weakness in your leg
- Pain after an injury, such as a car accident or fall
- Trouble controlling bowel movements or bladder
Causes and risk factorsHerniated discs, bone spurs, tumors (rare), or even diabetes can cause sciatica. Spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, or piriformis syndrome can also aggravate sciatica. When these conditions pinch or compress your sciatic nerve, you will experience sciatica.
Other risk factors for sciatica:
Age. As you age, your spine changes and it is more likely that you will experience herniated discs or bone spurs, which are the two most common causes of sciatica.
Prolonged sitting. Whether you sit for a long time at work or at home you are more likely to develop sciatica than an active person is.
Obesity. Being overweight increases stress on the spine and can contribute to changes in the spine that cause or trigger sciatica.
Occupation. Twisting, carrying heavy loads, or driving long distances might contribute to sciatica. If you have to do any of these activities for work, that might play a role in your sciatica.
Diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk for nerve damage, which could contribute to sciatica.
Smoking. Smoking can cause your spinal discs to degenerate and break down.
Pregnancy. Hormones during pregnancy loosen your ligaments, causing an unstable spine and an increased risk of sciatica.
How to relieve your pain
There are a number of things you can do to relieve or reduce your sciatica pain on your own.
Use the Chirp Wheel+. This product was created to help reduce your back and sciatica pain and improve your posture. Anyone can use the wheel, and it can help you maintain correct posture or reverse damage from poor posture, which is great for reducing sciatica pain.
Use hot & cold therapy. Cold therapy will reduce inflammation and numb pain for a short period of time. Use cold on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a day to help reduce your pain. Heat therapy will help increase blood flow; however, do not use heat therapy if you experience inflammation. It is a good idea to use cold therapy for the first few days you experience pain to reduce inflammation and then try heat therapy.
Exercise regularly. Exercises like swimming, stationary cycling, yoga, or other low impact exercises can help relieve sciatica pain. Strengthening your core will help to maintain correct posture and reduce sciatica pain.
How to prevent sciatica
If you are at risk for sciatica from your age, obesity, or diabetes, there are a few things you might be able to do to help reduce your risk for sciatica pain.
Exercise regularly. Focus on strengthening your core muscles because those muscles encourage proper alignment and posture. Exercising regularly will also help you lose weight if you are obese or will help you maintain blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. It can also help you maintain strength in your muscles and joints as you age.
Use good body mechanics. When lifting anything heavy, make sure you lift correctly by using your lower body and keeping your back straight. Move straight up and down as you lift, or get someone to help you. When standing or sitting for long periods of time, give your muscles a break and switch positions often.
Practice good posture. Use the Deep Tissue Chirp Wheel+ in the small of your back while sitting to maintain good posture. Keep the natural curvature in your back whether you are sitting, standing, or lying down. For more tips on how to practice good posture and get out of your old habits of poor posture, read this blog post.
Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Sciatica Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12792-sciatica
Johnson, S. (2019, August 16). Everything you need to know about sciatica. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/sciatica#signs
Mayo Clinic. (2020). Sciatica. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sciatica/symptoms-causes/syc-20377435