Treatment and prevention of sciatica

It is recommended to keep absolute rest for the first 24 hours. Also, we will try to sleep on our backs and place a pillow under the knees to improve the condition

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Sciatica is irritation of the sciatic nerve by compression of the nerve or herniated disc in the lumbar or sacral area as the most common causes. Course with pain, weakness, numbness or tingling along the entire nerve path, that is, lower back, buttocks, back of the thigh and back of the leg, reaching the heel.

Symptoms can start with a dull tingling and suddenly aggravated by poor posture, carrying excessive weight, maintaining the same position for a long time, etc., to the point that it is invalidating to walk or move and forces rest.

While the pain can become severe, most cases resolve in a matter of weeks with the help of non-surgical treatments. How to intervene? What are the recommended measures for rehabilitation?

Sciatica treatment

Some necessary cares support recovery from sciatica pain. However, for proper management of this condition, it is essential to consult the doctor or physiotherapist. The professional can determine an appropriate treatment depending on the cause of the pain. Besides, you can assess whether there is another associated condition.

In addition to physical examination, tests such as radiographs, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and electromyography can be suggested, as indicated by the Mayo Clinic. Subsequently, depending on the diagnosis, treatment may include:

  • Medications: anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxants and tranquillizers.
  • Physiotherapy: the program may include exercises to correct posture and strengthen the muscles that support the back.
  • Steroid injections: used only in specific cases, for a limited time due to possible side effects.
  • Surgery: it is an option that is reserved only for severe cases. For example, when the compressed nerve causes severe weakness or problems controlling the sphincters.

Lifestyle and care against sciatica

To complement the medical treatment of sciatica, we can consider some care and lifestyle changes. These contribute to soothe the pain and also reduce the risk of complications. Of course, before applying them, it is convenient to ask the doctor. So, from  MedlinePlus they recommend us:

  • Bed rest is not recommended.
  • In the first two days apply ice in the area that hurts to lower the inflammation, the following days, apply heat to improve circulation and recovery.
  • You can take over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or paracetamol. However, if you are taking other medications, consult your doctor first.
  • When the pain disappears, you should be a few weeks without intense physical exercise.

Sciatica Prevention

Sciatica tends to repeat itself; In this case, it is essential to go to the doctor again to determine the cause. There are some critical tips to prevent acute attacks from recurring regularly, although prevention varies depending on the purpose of nerve damage.

  • Sleep on a firm mattress and always use a pillow to avoid forcing the position of the neck and spine.
  • When standing, divide your weight between the two legs, keeping your back straight.
  • Keep your head and shoulders back while walking.
  • Wear low heels or high heels; avoid those that are entirely flat.
  • If you are sitting for a long time, rest your back and keep it straight; the knees and the hip should be at the same height, using a footstool if necessary.
  • When lifting an object, do it with your back straight and using your leg muscles to get up.
  • When driving, keep your back against the backrest and if the trip is long, rest every little time.
  • An exercise that strengthens the back and lowers back muscles such as swimming, yoga or pilates.

In short, there are several treatments available to alleviate the pain caused by sciatica. Also, some preventive measures reduce the risk of their reappearance. In any case, it is best to consult the doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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