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Find out five easy ways to recover from back pain and sciatica

7 out of 10 individuals have back pain in their life. Out of these around 90% cases are because of muscle and age-related degenerative changes in joint and disc, which can heal within 4-8 weeks with conservative treatments like Physiotherapy & medication. Only 10% of cases of back pain have serious cause like major disc prolapse, vertebral fracture or spinal infection, tumor and cancer.

Out of these cases some patients develop radiculopathy in which pain radiates down the leg, this is commonly known as sciatica because problem is related to a nerve called SCIATIC. This is the same nerve which get involved when your leg goes for sleep after sitting for too long on your wallet or on pot.

SCIATIC NERVE which connects your buttocks, back of thigh, calf and side of the leg and toes to your spinal cord and further to your brain, get compressed or irritated. It happens in an opening where these nerves exit spine. Most common place for these compressions is L4-L5 & L5-S1.

Common conditions which can cause sciatica pain.

Other conditions include:

Common Symptoms of Sciatica

  • Pain in buttocks, back of thigh, calf

  • Pain in outer side of leg sole of foot & toe

  • Burning Tingling numbness in foot and leg

  • Weakness or difficulty moving the leg or foot

  • A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up


Five things to know when recovering from sciatica.

1. Do you really have Sciatica?

Sciatica can be diagnosed through history and comprehensive assessment which includes general mobility tests and special tests to put nerve under tension (straight Leg Raise and slump test) and reproduce the symptoms. These tests also help clinicians to differentiate from other sciatica like conditions e.g. Piriformis syndrome, SI Joint dysfunction, Muscle trigger point or peripheral neuropathy. X-ray, MRI and other investigations doesn’t add much of value in early treatment of Sciatica.

2. How to Treat Sciatica Pain?

Most people think if pain is increasing something bad is going on. In these painful situations body shows innate capacity of healing, like body can reabsorb prolapsed disc or slip disc, back becomes stiff after back injury because body doesn’t think it is good idea to move, it can twist the body in certain way so that compression around the nerve get relieved. Also, our brain releases pain-relieving chemicals to soothe nerves literally.

All the treatments are facilitatory and focused on pain relief and keeping the person as active as possible. If the pain is really excruciating then one can take rest for couple of days.

One can start with Physiotherapy or pain medication for acute pain and later continue with physiotherapy for 4-8 weeks depending on the condition. Physiotherapy must include manual therapy which helps in relaxing the muscle which can cause increase tension on the nerve when it is tight. Also customized exercise helps in calming down the nerves. Generally, three out of four people recover from pain in couple of weeks.

3. Hurt or harm?

When condition is acute sciatica pain can be excruciating, and in these conditions lying down for short periods is recommended. Prolonged bed rest can be detrimental for recovery. Treating pain is primary objective, and after pain goes down movement is the key that can be achieved with gentle stretches, short walks and mobility exercises on bed.

Sitting for too long, lifting heavy weights or coughing sneezing can aggravate the symptoms. Direct stretching of nerve can also cause pain in acute stage but later it helps in relieving the pain.

4. How to avoid re occurrence?

After pain subsides one can start with following exercises to keep sciatica pain at bay

1. Lumbar mobility exercises

2. Core strengthening

3. Gluts and Piriformis stretching

4. Sciatic nerve Sliders

5. General neural mobility exercises

Even in extreme cases of sciatica, people recover within 6-12 months from injury. If it doesn’t resolve then opting for an injection or surgery is better option.

5. Other things to know

  • Age-related changes in the spine, like degenerated disks and bone, are the most common causes of sciatica.

  • When you are obese increased body weight put stress on your spine, It contribute to the spinal changes that trigger sciatica.

  • People who sit for prolonged periods or have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop sciatica than active people are

  • A job that requires you to twist your back, carry heavy loads or drive a motor vehicle for long periods might play a role in sciatica, but there's no conclusive evidence of this link.

  • Diabetes inreases the risk of nerve damage.

  • Smoking can also cause disc damage which can result in sciatica.

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