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Useful tips to prevent a painful bout of Sciatica

Symmetry Physio - Thursday, September 20, 2018

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Tips to prevent a painful bout of Sciatica


Sciatica is a general and commonly used term to describe pain that originates from the sciatic nerve. This is a large nerve that extends from the lower back, through the buttock and them down the back of your leg to your foot. Associated symptoms may also include numbness and tingling, burning or shooting pain down the legs, and in some cases even weakness. It is often caused by mechanical irritation (compression) and/or inflammation of a nerve root exiting the spine as a result of an injury in the lower back. The most common being an injured intervertebral disc.

For some people, having sciatica means having a few days of irritating pain. For others, it can be weeks of severe and debilitating pain. 

If not managed well sciatica has the potential to get worse over time and become aggravated more easily. In some cases, even doing relatively minor activities such as gardening, shopping, lifting, or simply putting on your shoes in the morning can trigger an episode.

We can help with treating your sciatica, firstly by identifying the likely cause of sciatica and managing this specifically, and then by restoring your core strength and range of motion. But to prevent its onset here are a few general tips that you can follow:

Posture -

Maintain proper posture at work, driving or sitting with your neck straight, shoulders down and back supported, maintaining its natural curve. If you work for long periods at a desk, it is important to have an ergonomic desk setup and a well-supported chair to assist with good posture. A standing desk can also help by taking weight off the spine during a long day at work and allowing you to move more regularly.

Exercise –

The most important tip of all! Your spine was made to move, the intervertebral discs need load on them for nourishment, which is why even just simply walking will help with sciatic pain and decrease compression on the spine. Your spine also needs to bend, twist and extend in order for it to stay healthy. Make it part of your routine, not just after a bout of sciatica! A few great examples include swimming or Pilates, but we can advise on the best types of activities to suit you.

Avoid prolonged sitting 

Prolonged sitting is extremely bad for our general health. Make sure to take short breaks at work every 30 minutes. A good idea is to stand up and have a drink of water, taking a few minutes to walk around. The longer you get stuck in your chair, the stiffer you will feel later.

Lifting and bending -

Be mindful when lifting heavy objects. Ensure the item is held close to the body. If possible, squat down and use the strength of your legs to lift rather than using your back like a crane; this will help protect the structures of the spine.

Sleep hygiene 

Sleep is when we do our best healing and recovery, so it is important we get good quality sleep at night. Sleeping with a pillow underneath your knees can help support your back and improve comfort. Or if you are a side sleeper between your knees in order to keep your spine nice and straight.

If you are experiencing sciatica it’s best to contact us immediately, even if you feel like you can’t move. We will be able to start treating it straight away to assist with your recovery and reduce the amount of time that you are in pain or off from work. Treating sciatica in the acute phase (within 48 hours) will shorten your recovery time. We have a variety of techniques available to manage sciatic pain including gentle exercise, lower back tape, massage and trigger point relief.

Contact us today so that we can assess which is best for your recovery!

The team at Symmetry Physiotherapy

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