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First-Aid For Sciatica Flare-ups

What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is the pain that originates from the sciatic nerves. They are the two largest nerves in the body and originate from the lower lumbar spine and pass through the buttocks, down the back of each leg, to the soles of the feet, and end at the big toes.

Dealing With Sciatica Pain

Sciatica pain is caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve roots at the base of the spine. When sciatica pain flares up, it is helpful to have the following treatment options to alleviate pain:

Prescription Medicines

In case of a flare-up, taking rest can help ease the pain. Medications such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can provide timely relief.

Cold Compress Treatment

A cold compress or ice application can reduce inflammation and numb sore tissues, providing relief from some of the pain in the sciatic nerve. This should be used initially when the pain is sharp and intense, usually for 2 to 7 days, depending on the severity of the pain.

Hot Compress Treatment

Applying heat dilates the blood vessels, which increases the flow of oxygen and helps in healing. Heat treatment should be used after the sharp pain has subsided, typically 3 to 7 days after the flare-up.

Get Moving

Once the pain subsides, incorporating low-impact activities and exercises can help strengthen the area and prevent future attacks. These can include exercises such as water aerobics, riding a stationary bike, daily back stretching, and yoga.

Long Term Solution

If your sciatica episodes become frequent and the pain begins to interfere with your daily life (despite medical treatment), you may want to consider surgery that involves paring the back discs so that they do not pinch the nerve roots.

Medanta Medical Team
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