A study in the journal Pain reported that people with chronic back pain who practiced Iyengar yoga for 16 weeks saw pain reduced by 64% and disability by 77%. But yoga’s effects on sciatica are less clear, gentle forms may be beneficial. By strengthening muscles and improving flexibility, a yoga practice can help sciatica sufferers move and function better so they don’t fall into a posture that aggravates the sciatica.
Exercise and Physical Therapy
Moving is usually the last thing people dogged by sciatica want to do, but it’s important to be physically active.Lying in bed makes it more likely that the pain will last longer.Exercise increases blood flow to the disk and the nerve, helping to get rid of the chemicals causing the inflammation.Take 15- to 20-minute walks. If that hurts too much, give swimming or water aerobics a try. there’s not as much pressure on the back when you’re in the water.It may also be worth seeing a physical therapist, who can prescribe stretching exercises to restore flexibility to the back or moves that strengthen core muscles, helping to stabilize the spine and reduce the likelihood of a similar injury.
Apply the antiinflammatory oil two or three times a day where there’s pain. Another option, an OTC cayenne pepper plaster or cream, capsaicin, found in chiles, hinders the release of pain causing compounds from nerves. For severe cases, Low Dog uses the prescription chile patch Qutenza, designed for shingles pain.One application is effective for weeks.
Massage definitely work for chronic back pain but don’t expect a chilled out spa massage if you have sciatica. In this instance, trigger point therapy is best, says Jeff Smoot, vice president of the American Massage Therapy Association. Typically, Smoot schedules treatments 7 to 10 days apart. If patients don’t see progress by the fourth visit,they need to try another form of therapy.
“You can get relief as soon as the first session, though it takes about 12 sessions to see improvement,” says Jingduan Yang, MD, assistant professor at the Jefferson Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University.
Epidural Steroid Injections
People whose pain doesn’t lessen within about a month and who aren’t helped by other therapies may find their pain remedied by an x-ray-guided injection of steroid into the lower back.Because of concerns about side effects, such as loss of bone density, the epidural shots are limited to three a year.
After 4 to 6 weeks of unremitting symptoms, patients may qualify for surgery. The Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial found that those who had surgery for a herniated disk had greater decreases in pain and disability 3 months after ward than patients who did not. The benefits lasted up to 4 years.
The herbal medication devil’s claw is quite a potent anti inflammatory, working like ibuprofen and similar drugs to inhibit substances that drive inflammation. Safety reviews show that the supplement is well tolerated by most people but should be avoided by patients with peptic ulcers or on blood thinning medications.