“Pain can kill”. This might be an overstatement to some but categorizing pain as a vital sign underlines the gravity of threat it poses. Far from being just an unpleasant experience that people should endure, pain can actually harm the body by unleashing a cascade of hormonal and neurochemical changes that can affect an individual not just physically but emotionally, and mentally.
Evidence suggests that an individual experiencing pain episodes plays an important role in the prevention, treatment, management and recovery of pain. Your role in sciatic pain management is important because sciatica improves with proper exercise, adequate rest and self-care measures. Pain that doesn’t respond to natural pain-relieving measures and treatment may be helped with surgery to remove the underlying cause of pain.
Quick Overview of Sciatic Pain
- Acute Sciatic Pain – occurs suddenly and usually heals within several days or weeks. Severity and intensity of pain depends on the amount of affected tissue injury.
- Chronic Sciatic Pain – pain persists longer than 3 months. Etiology behind pain may be hard to determine. It may also be felt all the time or worsen with certain activities as well as during sitting or at rest.
- Pain – Classic sciatic pain starts usually in the low back and buttocks area, it affects one leg travelling down the back of the thigh. It varies widely from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating discomfort. Sometimes it may feel like a jolt or electric shock. It may be worse when you cough or sneeze, and prolonged sitting can aggravate symptoms.
- Tingling, weakness and numbness
- Difficulty moving the leg or foot
Treatments of Sciatic Pain
Healing begins with self-care and non-surgical strategies. The goal for treatment is to correct the problem, improve the function, and prevent re-injury.
Sciatica often resolves with rest, ice or heat compress and massage. Ice pack or gels can be used for 20 minutes several times a day during the first 48 to 72 hours. Then, a heating pad may be used to relax the muscles. Bed rest is okay for a few days but it shouldn’t be done for more than a couple of days as it worsens the condition. If these treatments aren’t effective and pain still persists, book an appointment in our clinic for further assessment and examination.
Stretches and Exercises
Over-the-counter NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen or Naproxen can bring relief. Spasms can be treated by muscle relaxants.
Deep and firm massage will not only help soothe cramped muscles but can actually make the nerves and ligaments both relax.
Massage services can be provided by some facilities that are just around the corner. Also, there are hand-held devices that are available in the market. These devices work by vibrating and oscillating to thump the muscles. A simple tennis ball can even do the trick.
Thernstrom, M. (2010). The pain chronicles: Cures, myths, mysteries, prayers, diaries, brain scans, healing, and the science of suffering. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
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