Back pain can be debilitating and relentless. When this pain is coupled with sciatica, the ability to move freely can be greatly hampered. Sufferers of this condition can only hope for better days. After undergoing several rounds of back pain coupled with sciatica, I am offering 6 tips for eliminating back and sciatica pain.
My first episode of incapacitating back pain occurred decades ago when I was a young mother responsible for the care of four children. Without any warning, I was incapable of lifting up my children, cooking, sitting for prolonged periods of time, or driving a car without significant discomfort. Doctors’ interventions (prolonged rest, prescriptive drugs, and an injection) did little to lessen my agony. Back then, a trip to the library was my only recourse to learn more about L5/S1 disc issues since Google didn’t exist. After weeks of following the doctor’s advice, I started exercising. Gradually the symptoms went away. Was it the exercise or simply a matter of time? I will never know.
Luckily, my back pain didn’t reoccur until last year. Once again without any warning, I had lower back pain. This time around sensations went down my left leg into my ankle. I struggled walking up and down a flight of stairs. I could sit comfortably for hours, but walking any distance was problematic. X-rays indicated degenerative disc disease was the culprit.
I chose not to take the recommended shot and stopped taking the prescriptive anti-inflammatory drugs after diarrhea was a daily event. Instead, exercises designed to strengthen my back, core, and legs were done each morning. Patience became my best friend once again as I waited for the situation to resolve. Fortunately, I recovered before I had an eight-day Hiking in Style media trip to Switzerland. If the pain persisted, I would have dawdled. I would not have been able to hike with my travel colleagues in the Swiss Alps nor been able to walk barefoot on the outdoor obstacle course.
Recently, another wave of discomfort returned. Stay at Home orders for the COVID-19 pandemic prevented an in-person orthopedic doctor’s office visit. Under these circumstances, I was unable to confirm my self-diagnosis. Perhaps, my L5/S1 issues caused my sleepless nights.
By following my back-healing routine, I was able to reverse the process within a few weeks rather than several months. This was accomplished without prescriptive drugs, an injection, or physical therapy. If my symptoms did not resolve. I would have sought medical attention as soon as it was safe to see a doctor in person.
It is impossible to know if what works for me will help others. However, having lived through painful episodes associated with orthopedic issues, I know the importance of searching for ways to minimize extreme discomfort. Many have read my tips for rehabbing from my previous shoulder, knee, and foot surgeries. Today, I am sharing my 6 tips to eliminate back and sciatica pain.
Orthopedic issues rarely heal overnight. A positive attitude coupled with patience will minimize frustration levels. Whenever I acknowledge physical limitations as a temporary situation, my overall sense of well-being is improved. Once I accept the fact that rehabbing an orthopedic issue is a multi-step process, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and be motivated to follow an exercise routine.
Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc with one’s life. Finding a comfortable sleeping position is essential, especially if back pain wakes you up at night. While many people prefer ice, I favor heating pads and warm baths. To relax the muscles in my back, I take either a warm bath with mineral salts from the Dead Sea or lie on a heating pad before going to sleep. If I am tossing and turning in pain, I sometimes have to get out of bed and walk around my house to lessen the discomfort. A few minutes on a heating pad is sometimes all it takes.
Many people rely on anti-inflammatory medicines, prescriptive and non-prescriptive, to minimize the pain. Since I understand the possible side effects, I limit the use of these powerful drugs as much as I can. Even though studies on supplements that purport to have anti-inflammatory properties are limited, I take Turmeric/Curcumin as well as Fish Oil on a daily basis.
Hopefully, over time more studies will be undertaken to substantiate the claims that these supplements offer anti-inflammatory relief. When it was not possible to see a doctor, I emailed my functional medicine doctor. He suggested adding a few drops of hemp seed oil to my daily supplements list.
If you plan to use any supplements, I recommend consulting with a medical professional to find out their recommended brands, the appropriate dosage, and to determine if any of these supplements conflict with other health issues.
Change Positions Frequently
As a writer, I can easily sit for hours without moving. This lack of movement is detrimental to my overall well being. My movement is also significantly restricted whenever I sit in a car or airplane. In these confining situations, I make an effort to do periodic pelvic tilts and to move my legs. Smartwatches can be programmed to remind people to stand up. While I find this feature to be annoying at times, it is beneficial to my back’s wellbeing.
Daily Aerobic Activity
Study after study has highlighted the importance of staying active. While it is not always possible to include 30 minutes of walking, riding a stationary bicycle, or swimming into one’s schedule, attempting to do so at least five days a week has profound effects on the body and the brain. I recommend starting out slowly. When I first added cycling to my daily schedule, the pain was so intense that I could only tolerate five minutes of pedaling a day.
Even when I am not experiencing back pain, I can see the positive impact of just 30-40 minutes of activity. Endless weeks of a sedentary lifestyle may be setting you up for a long list of health issues, as well as lower back pain.
Decades ago, when I experienced back pain for the first time, my orthopedic doctor recommended bed rest and eventually ordered an injection. This treatment offered little relief. When I gradually started adding an exercise routine into my schedule, my symptoms started to go away. As I started to improve, I incrementally increased the number of exercises.
Whenever it is possible, I recommend seeing a doctor. He/she will confirm whether the source of pain is your lower back and not something else. As mentioned above, it is also important to make sure that over the counter products are not causing any adverse issues with other medical issues. Hopefully, your back and sciatica pain will resolve as quickly as possible so that you can resume normal activities.
CAN YOU SHARE?
Each person has his or her own recovery story. We can all gain something from reading about how others handled their back and sciatica issues. Do you have any tips that you’d like to share with my readers?
Meaningful Anniversary (hip replacement)
When Sandy isn’t trekking or writing in the Colorado Rockies, she is traveling. She has visited more than 40 countries and lived as an international teacher in Bangalore, India. Sandy shares her lifestyle and travel experiences with international and domestic online sites and print media.
Her stories have appeared in Hemispheres, Destinations Magazine, KUHL’s Born in the Mountain blog, Grand Magazine, Wandering Educators, Golden Living, One Travel, Miles Away, Canadian Jewish News, Getting On Travel, Far and Wide, Colorado Parent, Traveler Confidential, Family Circle- Momster, and others.
Sandy’s award-winning book, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, is a resource for people contemplating an ex-pat lifestyle and living outside their comfort zone. To learn more about Sandy’s travel adventures, visit https://thetravelingbornsteins.com/