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Pinched Sciatic Nerve - How to Get Relief

A pinched nerve describes damage to a nerve, causing an interruption to the function of the nerve. Pressure on the nerve by surrounding tissue causes the symptoms of pain, tingling, weakness or numbness along the pathway of the nerve. In the case of the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body, the symptoms may be felt from the lower back to the lower leg.

The most common cause of a pinched sciatic nerve is a herniated disc, when part of a disc bulges out between the vertebrae due to an injury. The bulging disc presses on the sciatic nerve which results in the pain or discomfort of sciatica. The location of the symptoms is related to the part of the sciatic nerve that is pinched.

It is important to have your condition diagnosed by a health professional so that you can receive the best and most appropriate treatment. Once you have been diagnosed with a pinched sciatic nerve, there are several treatment options. These include:

  • Bed rest
  • Medication – analgesics, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, cortisone injections
  • Applying heat and/or cold to the affected area
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Exercise regime to strengthen core muscles and increase flexibility
  • Alternative therapies including acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine

Several of these treatments are effective in the long term, but what about getting more immediate relief from a pinched sciatic nerve?

Many people get pain relief from taking analgesic and/or anti-inflammatory medication; in severe cases, cortisone injections into the affected area may be prescribed. Massage therapy helps to relax muscles that are tense or in spasm, which also brings relief from pain.

Applying cold compresses immediately the pain is felt is effective for pain relief especially if alternated with heat packs every 20 minutes. After the initial pain has subsided, heat packs help to relax the muscles and ease pain even further.

In some cases of a pinched sciatic nerve, movement is painful and difficult, but if walking is possible, just slowly walking around can bring some relief to sciatica pain. Stretching exercises can also help to relieve the pain of a pinched nerve, depending on the area that is affected.

Gently stretching the spine by raising your arms over your head and stretching the full length of your spine gives instant relief from the pain of a pinched sciatic nerve, muscle spasm and tension along the spine. There are other stretches that impact the muscles of the lower back, hip and thigh which are also helpful in relieving pain.

There are certain measures you can take that will help to prevent the incidence of a pinched sciatic nerve. You may have already discovered some activities which result in sciatica pain. These activities are usually associated with lifting, bending and twisting.

Taking care of your posture and technique when lifting objects will greatly reduce the likelihood of injury; you bend your knees, keep your back straight and use your leg muscles to lift the weight rather than relying on your back. When bending forward, you also need to bend your knees to take the strain off your back. Instead of twisting your torso to reach something or perform a task, turn your whole body to face what you are doing; twisting is a classic cause of pinched nerves.

This information will help you get relief from the pain and other symptoms of a pinched sciatic nerve and to limit the possibility of injury. In summary, here are the important points we have covered in this article:

  • Avoid injury by taking care when lifting, bending or twisting the body.
  • When the pain of a pinched nerve hits, try walking around to release the nerve.
  • Apply cold compresses alternated with heat packs to relieve the pain and relax the muscles.
  • Take pain medication if necessary.
  • Take regular breaks when doing repetitive tasks to try and prevent a pinched nerve happening.
  • Stretch the spine regularly when sitting or standing in the one spot for a lengthy time.
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