I knew what sciatica was, I came across it in my studies and also ailments that clients would tell me about. It seemed to be quite common, uncomfortable and varying in severity.
Having a job that deals with pain management I heard about every ailment there was and sciatica was definitely one of more frequent complained about issue.
So when I first got the pain I knew what it was.
Originating from my tailbone – check
Felt up the back or down the leg – check
Dull ache, hurts to move – check
But it wasn’t till my son was born and in my excessive nesting I painted the walls in our new house.
That night I was lying in bed and I couldn’t sit up, I couldn’t change the baby, I didn’t want to go to the toilet…I didn’t even want to be lying on my back!
My husband had to wake to place the baby for breast feeding. I managed (in excessive pain) to turn over to the other side but that was all I could do. I was having flashbacks to giving birth I was in so much pain!
A few days later I was ready for the final coat of paint….. I was feeling pretty good, I felt like my sciatica was under control and I wanted to finish it all off so badly.
I felt the twinge, I knew the pinch was there, I could feel the heat near my tailbone in the hours after I finished. I was sitting on the couch and the pain really started to creep in. I asked my husband to help me up, I wanted to shower and go to bed. He pulled me and I screamed “put me down”.
I wasn’t moving today, I felt like I wasn’t moving ever again. I was in so much pain I wondered how my life would be now I was perminantly living on the couch. I guess there was always Zoom for any weddings or parties, would my husband let me get a bell?
My husband rang a mobile Dr to come and see me. He told me the combination of medication (Number 1 below) that will reduce the pain and that worked and I could finally get up from the couch.
I am not against pain medication, what I don’t like is it being the only way. For me this is a band aide and what we want is to not have to take it at all and work on the fix before it is a problem.
Ok so here are my 5 effective ways to help manage sciatica:
1. Panadol and Ibuprofen combined. Both of these together create a better analgesia than the same dose of either drug alone and will work quickly and well. Keep in mind, this is just to bring you back down from a 7/10 pain to a 2-3 pain so you can do the other numbers and reduce the likeliness of needing the pain meds.
2. Stretching. Seems simple enough and when you get the tightness across your buttock you feel like this is something you want to do anyway BUT the trick is, do both sides. Don’t just do the sore side. Hold each side for 10 seconds, knee to chest. Do this 3 – 5 times. If you are very flexible and this doesn’t stretch, you can bring your foot up on an angle towards your other shoulder to get deeper into the stretch. Just be slow and listen to your body. It should be a good hurt.
3. Walk. Again it seems like an obvious thing to do but it is an important one. You will notice that during the day the sciatica isn’t bad but gets worse throughout the night. Day to day movement will help but getting out and striding (as best you can) will really assist your comfort levels later at night when it gets worse. It is important to walk evenly on both sides so not to cause more physical issues so take your time and let your muscle warm up.
4. If you can’t get out and walk for any reason OR just to get you to a comfort level faster look at an EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulation) device. They replicate movement, tensing and relaxing the muscle like passive exercise will do. It is wonderful for office workers, those less mobile or if you really want to get on top of the sciatica without pain meds. Mine is on my bedside ready to go whenever I need it.
5. Hot and cold packs. Heat is always a good one and it is what most of us will reach for but the combination of both is fantastic (although the cold isn’t as enjoyable). The heat will relax the muscles around the sciatic nerve (much like the EMS device) whereas the cold will reduce inflammation.
I use a combination of all of these often as sciatica is now a common flair up, but I will never get back to the day I couldn’t move with these in my arsenal.