Basic therapy for sciatic neuritis pain you can do for yourself
If your condition has been diagnosed as sciatic neuritis, or sciatica, due to a bulged lumbar disc, and you are suffering from low back and leg pain, here are simple home sciatica treatments suggestions that will help you to manage your problem and get back to normal faster.
If you have not been diagnosed as having sciatic neuritis from a bulged lower back disc, you should not assume this is your problem simply because your leg hurts. You really need to determine if you actually have true sciatica that has inflamed the sciatic nerve due to irritation from a herniated or bulged lumbar disc. Since about only 5% of people with back pain have sciatic neuritis, most people actually have what is known as a simple lower back pain problem.
Read Sciatica to help you decide if you should see your doctor or chiropractor to make this diagnosis for your current problem.
However, there are other symptoms that can occur in addition to lower back pain and leg pain that are more serious symptoms and suggest the possibility of more serious conditions (cauda equina syndrome, degenerative nerve diseases, etc.). More serious problems are suggested by:
- Feeling of pins and needles, or tingling, in your legs or feet.
- Numbness in your legs or feet.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
If you have any of these symptoms you must make an appointment for a complete examination with an MD or chiropractic physician to rule out more serious health problems.
If you know for a fact you have sciatic neuritis pain due to a disc herniation because you were given that diagnosis from your doctor, the following suggestions may help you manage your sciatic nerve pain with simple at-home treatment.
Step 1. Apply an ice pack to the area of greatest pain in the low back, more toward the side of the back where your sciatic neuritis or leg pain is located.
Get a bag of ice together and cover it with a single layer of paper towel or a thin cloth like from a handkerchief or old tee-shirt. You want to feel a rather fast and intense level of cold when you apply the ice pack. If it takes a while to feel the cold from the iced pack you have too many layers of cloth between you and ice, and it will not help you. For more information, see Ice pack for low back pain.
Step 2. Find a position that does not aggravate your leg pain and stay in that position to ease your back.
Because sciatic neuritis pain is all about the irritated lumbar disc that is causing it, any posture or activity that applies more stress and pressure to the disc – and in turn puts more pressure on the sciatic nerve roots – will make the back and leg hurt more. For this reason sciatica pain is worse while bending, standing, sitting or rotating the spine because this stresses the disc tissue, and is better while lying down. So lie down, please.
Experiment with pillows placed below your knees or between your knees, as well as other creative positions that can give you a sense of comfort and ease. See images.
- Lie face down with pillows or a rolled up towel under your hips and ankles.
- Lie on your back on a firm surface like a carpeted floor, with support under your knees
- Lie on the floor with your calves up on a couch, chair footstool. Notice how this posture resembles someone who is sitting down – except she is lying on her back; very comforting and will reduce sciatic neuritis and lower back pain.
Step 3. Walk slowly and carefully as an option when you cannot lie around anymore.
Walk when your back starts to tighten and ache more after you have been lying around for a while. Walking around slowly is also helpful for the lower back discs since it tends to massage the discs and reduce the swelling and pressure that is causing the sciatica. Walking is not the same thing as standing. Standing tends to be stressful to the low back and lumbar discs. Slow and careful walking tends to be therapeutic because the movement makes the muscles work and stretch and causes the inflammation fluid created by the sciatic neuritis to be pushed out of the area of injury. So walk slowly and carefully and it will do a lot to assist your recovery.
During an acute sciatica episode you might want to lie down for most of the first day, but after that movement is necessary to assist the healing process.
Do not make the mistake of lying around too long – you will hurt your back and prolong your recovery. Push yourself to get walking and doing activity that feels good to the back while your doing them and afterward.
Step 4. Avoid whatever posture or activity that causes pain or any discomfort.
You will likely find that sitting, standing (without movement), bending forward, and twisting all cause more back pain. Avoid whatever hurts your back. You are not going to “tough things out” you will only make matters worse if you do anything that hurts the back. It is like you are picking at a scab – by frequently irritating the area that is trying to heal you will prevent it from ever getting well. You must allow the sciatic neuritis injury to heal by not disturbing it by movements and postures that aggravate it while you are trying to recover. So avoid pain, and you will heal faster.
Step 5. It might be necessary to take off work to allow time to heal and avoid re-injury.
The decision to take time off from work is based on what kind of work you do, how much your work activities aggravate your problem and how badly you have hurt your lower back and disc.
- If you believe you can do your work and still be comfortable, then you should consider going to work since the mild activity might be beneficial.
- If your work requires that you do things that you learn aggravate your back, like sitting, standing (without movement), bending forward, and twisting that cause the disc to be re-injured, then you probably should stay off work for a few days.
- Return to work as soon as you are ready because the activity will help you to recover.
Step 6. Add some lower back and leg exercises to your daily routine, since you probably can assume you developed this sciatica pain because you are out of shape in this area.
Review sciatica exercises for suggestions how to help your leg pain. Not all stretching exercise for sciatica will be helpful, and in fact might aggravate the problem – so be most careful. Take your time to gently and slowly ease into these stretches for sciatic neuritis. Like getting into a tub of very hot water, it is best to take just a small step at a time to not only allow your body time to get used to the stretch ,but also to learn during a brief and gentle stretch if it might harm your low back and sciatic nerve pain.
Step 7. Do your best to not worry about your back or sciatic neuritis problem
By the 2nd or 3rd day you should begin to notice small signs of improvement; less intense leg pain, greater range of movement before leg pain starts up again, faster recovery from pain once it has started. Usually home treatment for sciatic neuritis is effective and the symptoms should gradually disappear in 2-3 weeks or slightly more.
This problem does not have to recur if you learn some lessons from this experience and change your habits about taking care of your back.
Worry leads to body tension, and body tension is not good for your back. Read some books about back care so you will feel more in control of your situation.
Step 8. Take a small bit of an effective anti-inflammatory for sciatic neuritis pain.
Try a small dosage of an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug that has worked for you in the past. Take a bit of it to ease your pain so you can get some rest. This early control of pain gets you ready to start slow careful activity that is need to get you back to normal as quickly as possible.
Do not overdue the pain medication because you need to feel some leg pain to know what activities and postures are harming your back. If you feel no pain because you are drugged up you will not know you are hurting yourself and you will get worse.
Step 9. Seek expert help if your symptoms worsen
Contact an orthopedic specialist or a good chiropractor in your area for help and advice how to deal with a sciatic neuritis problem that is not responding well to your conservative measures.