18 Sciatica Treatments That Really Work
What is sciatica?
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Heat or ice
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A lumbar pillow
"Prolonged sitting has been associated with increased risk of developing sciatica, so it's important to maintain good posture while sitting at a desk," Dr. Milstein notes. Placing a pillow against your lower back supports its natural curve and makes it more difficult to hunch forward. Dr. Hameed suggests the McKenzie Lumbar Roll ($16; amazon.com), a bolster-shaped cushion "that helps you to be a little more upright; you can put it behind you in your chair at the office, or in your car for use while driving."
A bathroom break
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A sit-to-stand desk
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A lacrosse ball
When it comes to targeted relief for pain associated with a particular muscle (say, "runner's butt," as piriformis syndrome is sometimes called), one of the best mobility tools is also one of the simplest. A humble lacrosse ball ($11 for 2, amazon.com) is perfect for pressing against the flesh of the specific region that feels uncomfortable to you, Dr. Hameed says. Place the ball on the ground, then lie on top of it and roll to knead pain out of your sore spots. If this feels too uncomfortable or hard on your tissue, you can swap down to a tennis ball, which has more give.
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Prescription pain patches
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As a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical approach to sciatic pain, visiting a chiropractor has a lot going for it: In a 2010 study, for example, researchers found that 60% of sciatica patients with herniated disks who'd had yet to find success with non-surgical treatment experienced the same relief from chiropractic care that other patients enjoyed from surgery. It's also an adjunct therapy that can often complement other approaches to your pain. Find a licensed doctor of chiropractic (DC) near you through the American Chiropractic Association.
A maternity support belt
For moms-to-be who experience sciatica, "my best advice is wearing a pregnancy belt that helps lift the uterus," says Hilda Hutcherson, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. Basic belly bands may be more comfortable for sitting positions, while maternity belts that cradle a pregnant wearer's belly and alleviate pressure on the lower back provide more relief from sciatica while standing and walking. (The good news: Pregnancy-related sciatica usually gets better shortly after giving birth, Dr. Hutcherson adds.) Don't turn to a back brace if you're not pregnant; the "support" will prevent your core and back from developing needed muscle mass.
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