Part 1 of 3. At first, I tried resting—no walking or standing for a while—then applying heat on my lower back, which had previously helped for the back pain itself. A colleague shared that he had been troubled by sciatica (SCI) for over two years–I couldn’t imagine that hell at the time and cringe now when I think of the chronic pain other people endure. He also strongly recommended ice over heat, since a physician recommended it for him and it worked. Heat evidently exacerbates sciatica, making the pain worse! Who knew??
When I left him that day, I went right to the drug store and bought one of their dual function gel packs that can be microwaved for heat or placed in the freezer for at least 1-1/2hrs for ice treatments. I love these packs because they can get very, very cold when left in the freezer for between four and eight hours, and they come with a pouch so that the pack can be worn around your body—under your clothing, if need be. It made a big difference over the long run and I rely heavily on ice now for relief, although heat has its place, too.
I began taking a separate cooler to work, just for ice packs! Ice is HEAVY (which I packed around the gel packs to keep them as cold as possible over the course of my workday) and so are the gel packs! I wore a gel pack to work and when it started to equalize with my body temp, I would take it off (I know that this is much longer than the recommended 20 minutes on/20 minutes off, but it provided relief for me). When I left work for the day, I would replace it with the ‘cooler’ gel pack. Unfortunately, the ice packs weren’t able to keep the gel pack frozen, which is the ideal, but ‘very cold’ is better than nothing, so I dealt with it.
Secondly, I had been telling Ms. F, my acupuncturist about this and she treated it as best as she could over three or four months, even up to the use of Battlefield Acupuncture (Battlefield) in my ears [insert a photo of the points in your ear here]. That was the last treatment she had to offer me for this and it didn’t work for me–not for this particular problem (I did have success with it for something else 1-1/2yrs later). My best friend had been trying to get me to go and see the chiropractor she was currently seeing for back pain. I told the acupuncturist (to whom my best friend also referred me) about my plans and she agreed that it was time for me to try something more aggressive.
I had also been getting massages to deal with it since January, when it seemed to begin. They didn’t help as much as I had hoped. Not for this.
If you’ve had sciatica, what has worked for your pain managment?
Photo Credits: Deborah Leigh (Migraine Chick) Chronic Pain Barbie