Submitted by: John A Peel
So you want pain relief for your sciatica pain, who wouldn t? It s painful, uncomfortable, restricts your movement and affects your mind. You feel older and less capable, in fact a shadow of your former self, when you are suffering the pain of sciatica.
So what are your options? Well pain relief for sciatica pain falls into four main areas:-
i) Medications Pills, analgesics, creams etc.
ii) Reducing inflammation Sometimes with medication often with topographical applications
iii) Restoring your normal mobility and function Often through stretches or exercises, but can in extreme cases require surgery
iv) Preventing any re-occurrence or flare up of sciatic pain by strengthening the muscles in the problem area and making some lifestyle changes that may have led to the problem.
Let s take a look at each of these options individually in some detail.
Sciatica Pain Relief with Medications
There is no denying that some oral medications will give you some pain relief from your sciatica. However they usually come with a cost and some risk. It often requires some pretty powerful pain killers to get any significant relief from sciatica and other back pain, usually the type of drugs that require a doctor s prescription. And they will make you drowsy, unable to work and you even risk addiction to them.
Even over the counter medications have their problems. They may conflict with other medications that you are taking. They may be unsafe if you are pregnant and some may cause liver and stomach damage, if you take enough of them.
But having mentioned the pit falls, oral pain relief is usually a sciatica sufferer s first port of call. So let s see what is available. Over the counter pain medications such as Aspirin, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are really only helpful in mild cases of sciatic pain, but Ibuprofen does have the added benefit of helping to reduce inflammation.
Prescription drugs fall into a wide variety and some unusual medications that are primarily aimed at other conditions have been found to help relieve sciatic pain. For example anticonvulsants and antidepressants, but your doctor is unlikely to prescribe these unless other options have failed.
Opioids are what s really required to provide relief from severe acute and chronic back pain. They generally fall under the major headings of codeine and morphine, but as I said earlier they come with their own risks. They will cause drowsiness and may reduce your reactions and impair your judgment; there is also the added risk of addiction if they are taken for any length of time.
Topographical creams and sprays may also prove useful in relieving your sciatica pain. They will produce a feeling of heat or cold which dulls the sense of pain. They may also reduce inflammation and stimulate blood flow which aids repair.
As well as topographical creams and sprays, regular heat and cold can be applied to the painful areas of the lower back to reduce inflammation. An ice pack or packet of small frozen vegetables like peas can be applied to the area. It is always best to cover the frozen items in a towel to avoid freezer burn or frostbite.
Heat can be applied with wheat bags which are warmed in the microwave, hot water bottles or warm baths.
Restoring your normal mobility and function
In extreme cases this may require surgery to repair any damaged disks. But in most cases some form of physiotherapy will release tight muscles and help you regain flexibility. I use the term physiotherapy in the generic form. You may use a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor or other health professional to help you. But you can also find lists, diagrams videos and instructions on line from web sites that specialize in the relief of back pain.
Preventing any re-occurrence or flare up of sciatic pain
This is where the exercise regime that you started to restore your mobility will come into its own. Once you have released the tight muscles, you can then continue with suitable exercises to keep them flexible and build strength in your abdominal and back muscles to support your spine. Again information on the exact exercises that you should perform can be found on line.
Aerobic activity such as walking and swimming is also good for building immunity to future bouts of sciatic pain. But beware of any high impact exercise that may jar or damage your back and joints.
You will also want to review your lifestyle to see if it is contributing to your back pain. Do you lift correctly? Check your posture to ensure you are not causing problems for yourself when you are standing, sitting or lying in bed. Once again tips on posture are available from specialist web sites on sciatica and back pain.
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