Sciatica, otherwise known as sciatic nerve pain, is one of the most common complaints heard by pain doctors. That being the case, there is a good chance that many cases go unreported because patients self-treat at home. They never see their doctors for an official diagnosis.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Many cases of sciatica resolve on their own. The patient takes some time off to rest, practices a little bit of self-care, and all is well in a few weeks. Yet there are more serious cases that do require professional intervention.
Lone Star Pain Medicine in Weatherford, TX says that patients have options if self-treating doesn’t work. One of those options is spinal cord stimulation. Others include lumbar sympathetic block, discectomy, and discoplasty.
If you believe you are suffering from sciatic pain and wish to attempt to self-treat, here are some things you can try:
1. Stretching Exercises
Lone Star doctors say the most common cause of sciatic pain is a herniated disc in the lower back. Even a minor herniation can put enough pressure on the sciatic nerve to cause pain. Fortunately, stretching exercises can do the trick for some people.
You can find plenty of resources online describing the best exercises for sciatica pain. If you are concerned that exercise could make things worse, do not hesitate to contact your doctor before you begin.
2. Cold or Hot Compresses
Cold and hot compresses seem to relieve sciatica pain in some patients. A cold compress applied for at least 20 minutes can offer immediate pain relief. Apply the cold pack as often as you need to for maximum relief. If cold doesn’t work for you, try hot.
Some people do better with hot compresses applied directly to the site of the pain. Interestingly, there are still others who achieve maximum relief by using both. They use cold compresses throughout the day and a hot compress in the evening.
3. OTC Analgesics
Yet another option for home-treating is over the counter (OTC) pain medications. Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium immediately come to mind. If neither help, a couple of aspirin may do the trick. Just note that all three do come with risks associated with long-term use. If you need to take medication for more than a few weeks to relieve sciatica pain, you probably want to think about seeing your doctor.
4. Dietary Changes
Believe it or not, making a few changes to your diet can make an enormous difference with sciatica. So if you suffer regular bouts of sciatic pain, consider what you eat. Any foods that promote inflammation could be exacerbating your condition. This includes things like sugar, carbohydrates, and certain kinds of oils.
Transitioning to a more healthy diet could be your ticket to pain relief. Consider more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Try eating less meat and more fish. You can also look into natural remedies for reducing inflammation. Consider things like turmeric and a variety of teas.
Went to See the Doctor
While most instances of sciatica resolve on their own, not all do. So how do you know when to stop self-treating and see your doctor instead? It is all about duration.
If you go several weeks and do not notice any improvement in your pain, the chances are that self-treatment isn’t going to help you. Visit the doctor. Likewise, you may experience some pain relief initially but then plateau thereafter. Any sciatic pain that lasts more than four or five weeks is sufficient reason to seek a professional opinion. Do not take chances if your pain lasts that long.
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