Sciatica is a relatively common condition. In fact, there’s a lifetime incidence of 13% to 40%.
Usually, patients with sciatica problems experience pain. Patients with sciatica pain complain of pinching feelings down their lower back. Sometimes, this pain goes into their legs.
To learn more about sciatica pain and how you can relieve this pain, keep reading. We’re going to share everything you need to know.
What Is the Sciatic Nerve?
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body. It’s made up of five nerve roots that join together in the lower back. It passes from the lower spine into the buttock and down the back of the thigh towards the heel and sole of the foot.
The sciatic nerve is of great importance because it’s the part of the body that connects the spinal cord to the skin and muscles of the legs and feet.
What Causes Sciatic Nerve Pain to Flare Up?
The sciatic nerve is easily exacerbated. Since there are five nerve roots, there are five different sources where the pain could be coming from.
To be clear, the pain can come from one or more of the nerve roots that junction to form the sciatic nerve. And, this is not just back pain. Sciatica happens when there is any pain or neurological symptoms that come from this junction.
Usually, patients with sciatica complain of symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and pain down the path of the sciatic nerve.
Should You Heat Things Up or Cool Them Down?
With sciatica, patients should alternate cooling and heating.
First, you want to apply cold packs to the areas of pain. You should do this for 20-minute intervals several times a day. This can help reduce inflammation in the lower back.
Then, after two or three days of using cold packs, you should apply heat to the area. You can do this with a heat lamp or a heating pad. Make sure that it’s on the lowest setting to prevent injury or burning.
You should apply heat for 20-minute intervals as well. And, you want to do this several times a day.
Every two to three days, you should switch off from heat to cold and cold to heat.
Exercises to Do at Home to Prevent Sciatica Pain
If you’re looking for a way to heal your sciatic nerve through natural means, you should perform exercises. No matter how much medication you take, you should be doing exercises regularly.
These exercises can help you ease the pain and other symptoms that come with sciatica.
1. Piriformis/Gluteals Stretch, Supine
It’s best to do this move on top of a soft surface like a yoga mat. To perform this exercise, follow these steps:
- Lie down on your back and bend your affected knee
- Cross the painful leg over the other knee, placing the outside of your ankle just above the knee on the unaffected leg
- Let the knee on your affected leg drop to the side and bend the unaffected leg, allowing your heel to slide towards your buttocks
To increase the stretch, you should interlace your fingers behind the thigh of your unaffected leg. Then, you can pull your thigh in towards you, allowing your foot to lift off of the ground.
If you’re looking for an even greater stretch, you should push your elbow into the thigh of the affected leg. Then, hold it there for a few seconds.
2. ‘Neurodynamics’ Sciatic Nerve, Supine – Pointing Toes
Like the previous exercise, it’s best to do this exercise on top of a soft surface like a yoga mat. To perform this exercise, follow these steps:
- Lie down on your bank
- Bend the affected leg toward you and clasp your hands together behind the thigh of the affected leg
- Hold this position as your arms support the affected leg
- Slowly straighten out your knee until you feel the tension in your leg then stop
- Lower the foot of your affected leg slowly and lift your head to your chest
- Relax your head back while you raise your foot again
- Repeat the movement, allowing for points of rest as needed
Make sure that you’re only stretching your leg until the point of tension. If you go beyond this point, you could harm yourself.
3. Hamstring Dynamic Stretch, Lifting Straight Leg With Strap, Supine
For this movement, you should be laying on a soft surface and using a strap. Here are the instructions:
- Lie on your back
- Wrap the strap around the foot of your affected leg
- Pull the knee of your affected leg in towards your chest
- Straighten the leg towards the ceiling until you feel the tension in the back of your thigh
- Hold this position
Repeat this stretch as you feel comfortable. Again, you should stop when you feel tension.
4. “Pelvic Tilt” Core/Abdominal Strengthening, With Breath, Supine
Use a towel and a soft surface for this move:
- Lie on your back with your legs bent
- Place the towel between your knees and keep your feet apart
- Take a deep breath out and push your heels down to tilt your pelvis upwards off of the ground
- Breathe in and relax your pelvis back to the ground
You can repeat this movement as needed.
5. Gluteals Trigger Point Release (Ball), Standing Against the Wall
For this move, you’re going to need a flat wall and a small ball:
- Stand up straight with your back against the wall
- Hold a ball against the wall using your affected buttock
- Move your buttock over the ball while applying pressure
- If you begin to feel tender, hold the ball in that position
You can repeat this as needed for tenderness.
Physiotherapy for Sciatica
Battling sciatica pain isn’t easy. But, there are so many others battling the condition, too.
And, with the help of physiotherapy, you can get even more relief. And, a skilled physiotherapist can help you find the underlying issues that may be causing your pain.
Luckily, our physiotherapy experts offer in-clinic appointments and at-home mobile physiotherapy. Make an appointment today so that we can help you get back on your feet.