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Sciatica Pain: Immediate Relief, Cure Sciatica Permanently

Sciatica pain can be debilitating and restricting as it is felt through the back of the lower back, buttocks, thighs, and legs. This spine condition not only affects your quality of life but makes it difficult for you to continue with normal movements like sitting, standing, and walking. Visit Redefine Healthcare to work with board-certified and experienced spine specialists and learn about coping with sciatica, finding immediate relief, and preventing further painful episodes. Dr. Eric Freeman provides high-quality care and treatment to get rid of sciatica pain for good. He comes up with advanced, noninvasive treatment options that match your unique symptoms and help to manage your pain safely and effectively.

Sciatic nerve pain is a common complaint that affects routine movements and quality of life. Characterized by lower hip and back pain, sciatica can make even the most ordinary tasks like walking, sleeping, and sitting a nightmare.

Sciatica often results from carrying too much tension in some crucial muscles in the lumbopelvic hip region, which is the lower back, pelvis, and hips. Tension in these muscles may be the culprit behind your sciatic nerve pain. Targeting these muscles with specific stretches and direct, prolonged pressure can relieve this tension. Eliminating muscle tension and restoring alignment in the body offers a permanent solution to this problem.

What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is nerve pain that occurs when the sciatic nerve is irritated or injured. The sciatic nerve travels from the lower back, branches through your hips and buttocks, and down each leg and stops just below the knee on each side of the body.

Sciatica Anatomy

It is the thickest and longest nerve in the body and comprises five nerve roots. Sciatica often describes any pain originating from inflammation, irritation, compression, or pinching of the sciatic nerve. People suffering from sciatica experience mild to severe pain that follows the sciatic nerve path. You can experience pain anywhere from the lower back to the buttocks, hips, and down one or both legs.

Common symptoms of sciatica pain include:

  • Moderate to severe pain in the lower back, buttocks, and down one or both legs
  • Numbness and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet
  • Pain that worsens with movement or loss of movement
  • Weak muscles in the leg and foot
  • Unpleasant sharp, and painful tingling sensations in the lower limbs

Causes of Sciatica

The type of sciatica pain you experience depends on its causes. Some people experience this pain as sharp, shooting jolts, while others describe it as burning, electric, or stabbing. The pain is usually more severe in the legs than in the lower back.

It is essential to understand that sciatica is not a medical condition. Rather it is a symptom of an underlying spinal disorder.

Common causes of sciatica include:

  • Tight iliopsoas muscles
  • Tight or tense piriformis muscles
  • Herniated or bulging disc
  • Trauma or injury
  • Tumor in the lumbar spinal canal
  • Bones spurs

As there are multiple causes of sciatica, treatment depends on diagnosing the underlying cause accurately. It is best to consult a specialist who can determine your symptoms and recommend the best ways to cope with this pain.

Coping With Sciatica Pain

The pain associated with sciatica is the worst of all aches. It ranges from mild to severe back pain that radiates to the legs. Severe sciatica nerve pain has often been compared to the excruciating pain that results from being repeatedly hit with a cattle prod. A dull throbbing pain, burning sensation, numbness, or weakness in the legs is highly inconvenient and discomforting.

There are many ways to deal with sciatica pain, but the best way to cope with it is to work towards long-term solutions. Instead of looking for ways to manage the pain, it is crucial to fix sciatica nerve issue by addressing its source. In most cases, inflamed or strained piriformis muscles and iliopsoas muscles are responsible for this pain. Releasing the tension in these muscles can remove the irritation and compression on the nerve and take care of this problem.

Can Sciatica Pain Get Better on Its Own?

No. Sciatica nerve pain does not get better on its own and requires medical attention. Usually, sciatica is a symptom of underlying conditions such as tight and weakened hip flexors and piriformis muscles. Sometimes, a bulging or herniated disc, trauma to the spine, or misalignment of the pelvis can also lead to sciatica.

These conditions do not get better by themselves and need proper treatment. If left untreated, sciatica can worsen and result in excruciating pain. The severity of the pain can also increase with time, affecting your quality of life, and ability to move, sit, sleep and walk.

Sleeping Well With Sciatica

Most people suffering from sciatica are unable to enjoy a good night’s rest as the pain intensifies when they lie down. Lying down puts additional pressure on the affected nerve, irritating it further. The severity of the pain also depends on your choice of mattress and sleeping position.

Ensuring the right sleeping conditions is the quickest way to enhance your quality of sleep with sciatica. Find out which side of your body is affected by hip pain, and avoid sleeping on that side. Also, avoid sleeping on your stomach as it makes your back arch towards the mattress. Keeping a pillow between your legs can keep the pain away while sleeping, as it allows the hips to remain in a neutral position.

A medium-firm mattress is the best option when sleeping with sciatica pain as it improves spinal alignment. Soft mattresses compound the sciatica pain by enhancing the curvature.

Sitting With Sciatica Pain

Sitting for long periods is a leading cause of sciatica and lower back as it compresses the spinal column and increases the risk of nerve injury. Sitting can cause hip flexor tension that creates a tug of war between the front and back of the hip, leading to sciatic nerve compression.

To keep the pain from worsening when sitting, it is best to avoid sitting for more than half an hour if possible. Take little breaks if you have to sit for longer, like when taking a flight or working at a desk. Stand up, stretch and walk around after every 30 minutes to rest the hip flexor muscle and increase the circulation of blood to other muscles.

Simple Tips for Sitting With Sciatica

  • Choose a chair that suits your body, and make sure to set it at the right height. The best chair keeps the knees below your hips and allows your back to retain its natural curve.
  • Avoid sitting with your legs elevated on the coffee table or an ottoman. Do not stretch your legs out in front of you while watching TV as it may hurt the nerve. Stretching the nerves for a long time is not good.
  • Keep both your feet flat on the floor and avoid crossing them as you sit. Make sure to sit squarely in your chair and do not lean to one side.

Sciatica Nerve Pain During Pregnancy

Many women experience sciatica pain during pregnancy. It is due to the additional weight in the abdomen that places more strain on the back and hips. The weight of the growing baby, hormone-induced hip shift, enlarging uterus, and the baby’s position are leading causes of sciatica in pregnancy.

All the changes taking place in the body lead to a tug-of-war between the hip flexor muscle and the piriformis muscles in the gluteal region. An irritated piriformis muscle is often directly responsible for sciatica pain in this condition.

A combination of gentle stretches, light exercises, and targeted muscle release is the best way to deal with sciatica pain during pregnancy. Certain yoga poses, such as modified child’s pose and camel pose, half pigeon, butterfly, and cat-cow can also ease pain in the hips.

Short-Term Solutions That Alleviate Sciatica Pain

Stretches, massages, and rubs are effective therapies that offer short-term relief from sciatica nerve pain. They soothe the muscles to increase blood circulation and ease the discomfort for some time.

Stretches for Pain Relief From Sciatica Pain

Stretching tense muscles can relieve sciatica pain successfully. There are a variety of effective stretches that can help you deal with this problem. You can also try some yoga poses and modify them to suit your flexibility needs to ease your pain.

Figure Four Stretch

This effective sciatic pain stretch targets the piriformis and other deep hip rotator muscles. There are two variations to this stretch, and you can do it while sitting or lying on the floor.

How to Stretch While Sitting

  • Sit on the edge of a chair and rest the ankle of your left leg on the knee of your right leg.
  • Gently press the elevated knee downward for 30 seconds and take relaxed breaths.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

How to Sit While Lying Down

  • Lie on the floor with your legs bent at 90 degrees, keeping your feet firmly on the ground.
  • Place your left ankle over your right knee and then interlock your fingers behind your right leg.
  • Gently pull the figure four towards your torso, hold it for about 30 seconds and breathe.
  • Switch legs and do the same on the other side.

Crossover Stretch

Lie flat on your back and cross the leg affected by sciatica nerve pain over the other leg.
Try to keep your upper back flat on the ground as you cross the leg over and rotate about the waist.
You should feel a gentle stretch in the outside of the hip and in the lower back too.
In case of a pinching sensation in the hip joint or lower back, do not go far into the stretch. Consider bending the knee on the leg that is crossed over the other.
Hold this stretch for half a minute, breath, and then switch legs.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Tight hamstring muscles tend to pull your pelvis. It can increase the stress on your lower back and irritate the sciatica nerve, causing pain and other symptoms.

  • Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and place your left leg in front of your right and ensure they are about 3 feet apart too.
  • Your shoulders and hips should be level and facing forward.
  • Send your hips back as you bend forward at the waist. The front leg should remain straight.
  • Reach your arms forward, towards the toes on the front left to intensify the stretch but do not let the lower back round.
  • Keeping the back straight helps to keep the stretch more isolated to the hamstrings on the back of the front leg.
  • Hold this stretch/position for about 15 to 30 seconds. Then repeat with the other leg.
  • Aim for 3 to 5 sets on each leg.

Can Stretching Cure Sciatica for Good?

No. Stretching may be the go-to solution for easing the pain temporarily, but it does not offer a long-term or permanent solution. If you experience sciatica pain due to tight muscles, chances are that there is buildup tension, such as muscle knots or trigger points that is causing the problem. Muscle knots or trigger points that develop over a long time can lead to severe pain.

While stretching helps to lengthen the muscles, improving the range of motion, blood circulation, and muscle repair, it cannot relieve the tension from a knotted muscle. The muscle will remain contracted and return to its original length and state of tension soon after you stop stretching it.

In the same way, rubbing or massaging a knotted muscle only provides short-term relief. It can increase blood circulation and pliability but does not directly ease the tension in certain spots within the muscles. The muscle fibers will elongate slightly with massage but return to their contracted state once you stop manipulating the muscle. You will feel good when massaging, rubbing, or stretching, but these benefits are short term as these manipulations are not enough to release the tight and contracted areas of the muscles. Finding the contracted area, holding prolonged pressure on the muscle knot, and producing a good hurt is the most effective way to release the tense muscles and relieve the sciatica pain.

Long-Term Solutions to Get Rid of Sciatica

Understanding sciatica, what it is all about, and how it causes pain is significant for fighting pain and getting rid of it for good. It occurs when the muscles in the lumbopelvic hip region carry too much tension. This tension hurts your body, increases pressure on the discs and joints, and pinches or creates compression around the sciatica nerve.

If muscle tension, poor alignment, and increased compression on the nerves are causing sciatica, it is essential to undo and improve each of these elements to get rid of the sciatica pain for good. Tightness in the iliopsoas and piriformis muscles is closely linked to the development of chronic back pain and sciatica, and focusing on them can help you find long-term relief.

Releasing Muscle Tension to Alleviate Pain

The only way to eliminate muscle tension is by releasing it. You can do this by applying prolonged pressure to the muscle, ideally for about 90 seconds or longer. Sustained, consistent pressure is most effective as it engages the brain differently.

During the first 30 seconds, pressing into the muscle may feel uncomfortable. However, as you continue to take deep breaths and relax, the brain comprehends that it is holding tension and that releasing the muscle is not dangerous. As you approach 60 to 90 seconds or more, the brain will signal the muscles to relax and stop contracting as much, and the tension you are feeling will begin to fade away.

For best results, following the 3 step process can help release tension in the muscles on both the front and back side of the pelvis along with realignment exercise. When performed the right way and consistency it can reduce tightness in the muscles, decrease compression on the joints and discs and improve spine alignment and pelvis to reduce irritation of the sciatic nerve to ease the pain. These steps can put your body in a better position. You can also add other corrective exercises to strengthen and stabilize the lower back, pelvis, hips, and core to relieve the sciatica pain for good.

Step 1 – Releasing Tension in the Iliopsoas to Ease Sciatica Pain

The iliopsoas muscle is attached to the lower back, pelvis, and hips. It is the body’s main hip flexor muscle. A tight iliopsoas can lead to a misaligned pelvis, arching the lower back too much. This poor position of the lumbar spine, combined with tightness in the iliopsoas, creates a lot of downward pressure on the discs and joints in the lower back, leading to a pinched nerve or disc injury that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and causes pain.

The tension in the psoas muscle can be accessed by applying perpendicular pressure, straight up and down, to release this muscle. As the iliacus muscle is a bit hidden and tucked away on the inside surface of the pelvic bone, it needs special tools that can curve in the angle to press directly on the iliacus. Using specialty tools such as the Hip Hook produces the desired effect for releasing tension. It is a patented tool designed by a physical therapist that actively targets the iliacus muscle. It enables you to release hip flexor muscles and deliver the correct amount of pressure at the right angles to release the tension and permanently cure your sciatica.

Step 2 – Release Tension in the Piriformis to Relieve Sciatica Pain

After releasing the psoas and iliacus on the front side of the pelvis, it is necessary to address the back side of the pelvis by releasing the piriformis muscles. If they are left tight and compressed, they will continue to cause pain. Even though the piriformis lies deeper within the gluteal region, releasing tension from this muscle is easier than the iliopsoas muscle. You can use a ball, foam roller, or another tool to ease the tension, target sciatic trigger points, reduce compression around the sciatic nerve, and release the pain.

Roll the ball or foam roller along the length of the piriformis muscle to locate the sore spots. Once you find a knotted spot, hold the pressure on that position and apply pressure for 90 seconds. Breathe in and out normally, and you will feel the pressure relaxing. Repeat the process on other parts of the body that feel tight and sore.

Step 3 – Realign the Pelvis to Alleviate Sciatica Pain

Tension in the muscle around your pelvis is a sign that pelvic misalignment could be the reason behind your sciatica pain. When releasing your muscles as guided in steps 1 and 2, you may find that one side is tighter than the other, and it could be creating a twist in your pelvis. If you are experiencing sciatica pain only in one leg, chances are that one side of your pelvis is rotated forward more than the other.

A Supine to Sit Test can help determine which side of your pelvis is rotated. You can perform pelvic realignment exercises on the shorter leg you identified with the test. Once you have identified the problem, you can better align your pelvis and relax the surrounding muscles for relieving the pain.

Consult your physical therapist to learn how releasing muscle tension can eliminate sciatica pain. The expert may also add a few more corrective exercises to help you strengthen and stabilize your hips, core, and pelvis for better results. It is essential to understand that performing these steps only once or twice will not fix your sciatica pain. These muscles have been tight for a long time and may tighten again when you sit and move around with other daily activities.

Sciatica is a sign of an underlying condition, and you must seek timely medical help to ensure it does not turn serious and require invasive treatment like surgery.

The sciatic nerves send signals to the spinal cord and brain from the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet. Treating sciatica must involve identifying the causes of nerve compression and relieving pressure on the nerve or tensed muscles. Call Redefine Healthcare nowto schedule your appointment with Dr. Eric Freeman without wasting any more time. Dr. Freeman is a highly experienced pain management specialist and understands how to handle sciatica-related issues and overcome them successfully. He comes up with optimum treatment plans to release tight muscles, realign your pelvis and strengthen the weaker muscles to help them function better and relieve sciatica pain permanently.

Page Updated on Dec 15, 2022 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare

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Dr. Eric D. Freeman

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.

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