When the sciatic nerve is irritated it can cause leg and buttock pain, numbness or tingling all the way to the toes not to mention lower back pain. Even with frequent chiropractic care to improve function in the lower back reducing stress on this nerve, sciatic symptoms can persist for many weeks. What can a person do to help themselves at home?
Prolonged sitting is usually the worst thing you can do for your sciatic nerve because sitting increases pressure on the lumbar discs. We suggest that our patients set a timer to get up and move around perhaps every 15 minutes. The discs in your lower back are often involved in sciatica so you want to minimize compression of them. One cannot avoid sitting all the time but the more you walk around to promote blood flow to your lower back the better. Prolonged bedrest will only weaken your muscular support system.
When watching tv or reading try lying on your side. When sitting place a small pillow or rolled-up towel in the small of your lower back to support the curve which is usually reduced due to muscle spasm. To sleep it is generally best to sleep on the side that is the least painful with a thin pillow between your knees in the fetal position.
Since the nerve stress of sciatica can also affect the colon causing constipation we suggest a fibre rich diet and lots of fluids to improve motility. Straining and coughing will aggravate your lower back and therefore sciatica. If you do feel a sneeze coming on bend your knees and do not suppress it!
Using ice or cold packs on the lower back for 10 to 20 minutes several times per day will help reduce spasm and inflammation in the lower back. Your chiropractor may give you specific exercises to do at home depending on the cause of your sciatica and the stage of recovery you are in.
Be patient. The vast majority of people suffering from sciatica will respond well to treatment in 4 to 6 weeks. Following the above suggestions will help you get better faster.