For many people, sciatic pain presents as a pain or numb feeling on one side of the buttocks. Very often, this buttocks pain radiates downward, often into the leg and foot on the same side of the body. Sciatic pain in the buttocks can feel very much like a swollen or bruised area, generally in the center of the buttock, making it difficult to sit for long periods of time. When the pain radiates down the leg, standing and walking can become difficult.
Though sciatic pain is often felt in the buttocks and lower extremities, it actually originates in the lumber region of the spinal cord. Sciatic pain is generally caused by migration or herniation of a disc in the spinal column moving out of place and putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sometimes, sciatic pain is created by inflammation of a spinal disc without the disc itself actually becoming herniated or bulging. Incidents of sciatic pain due to hairline fractures in the spinal discs have also been reported.
Some people experience such terrible discomfort from sciatic pain that they seek medical treatment. Unfortunately, the problem of sciatic pain is not a simple one to solve, and multiple treatments may be tried before finding one that works for the individual. Many people find relief from sciatic nerve pain through chiropractic treatments that work to re-align the spinal discs, thus ceasing any disc migration that may be the cause. Still others report only getting relief with the use of analgesic injections into the lumber spine. Prescription pain relievers are often used to offset sciatic pain, though extended use is often not recommended due to side effects of prescription pain relievers.
Many people find relief from sciatic pain by doing simple at-home exercises. It is recommended that the individual speak to his or her doctor before beginning any new exercise regime, including physical therapy. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to learn exercises that will help you deal with your sciatic pain.
Many exercises prescribed for relieving sciatic pain actually work toward realigning the discs of the spinal column, thus relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve. These simple stretches are easy to do. Simply lie on your back, preferably on the floor. From this position you will be able to do a simple hamstring stretch wherein you gently life one leg at a time, keeping the knee slightly bent, as far as you can go without causing discomfort. Some people will be able to get their legs quite high off the floor, but others may only be able to lift the leg almost imperceptibly off the floor before experiencing more sciatic pain and discomfort. That is okay- with time, you will find that you are able to increase the leg lift with less effort.
Lying on one’s back and bringing both knees to the chest simultaneously is a wonderful exercise for realigning the lumber spine. The lifting of the knees to the chest should be done slowly and carefully. Again, go only as far as you can go without causing more sciatic pain and discomfort.
If lying in the floor is too difficult, a standing stretch can also be of great relief to sciatic pain sufferers. Stand with your feet firmly planted shoulder-width apart, but do not lock your knees. Placing your hands on each corresponding hip, simply begin to gently lean your head backward, taking your shoulders with you. It is a good idea to do this stretch with furniture within reach in case you begin to lose your balance, you can reach for the furniture to re-stabilize yourself. As with all sciatic pain exercises, only go as far as you can without discomfort. Over time, these stretches will realign the lumber spine, and relieve sciatic pain. If the sciatic pain persists, it is important to see a health care professional.
If sciatic pain makes sitting uncomfortable, consider purchasing an exercise, or “yoga”, ball. Exercise balls are simply large, inflatable balls that many people use for stretching and yoga exercises. Healthcare professionals have found that the use of exercise balls as a seat can ease a women’s discomfort during labor by reducing the amount of pressure against her body. The same goes for sciatic pain. Simply sitting on an inflated exercise ball not only reduces the amount of counter-pressure on the body, it also forces the sitting person to sit in a position of good posture. This remedy for sciatic pain hearkens back to the physical therapy remedy in that it works to relieve the source of the sciatic pain – problems in the lumber spine. Exercise balls are inexpensive, and are available most anywhere fitness equipment is sold, including your local warehouse store.
Every individual who experiences chronic pain should seek the help of a medical professional. Sciatic pain has a number of causes, and treatment should be developed based on the individual case. It is important to understand that while analgesic injections and oral pain relievers may help ease the discomfort, therapy is needed to solve the actual problem causing the sciatic pain. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist, who will show you how to do simple stretches and exercises at home that will help solve the underlying issues, and over time relieve the symptom of sciatic pain. Use of tools, such as an exercise ball, may help the individual gain sciatic pain relief sooner rather than later, thus making life less stressful – and getting back into life is what it’s all about.