Heat or Ice for Sciatica? Physical Therapy Pros Say Both in *This* Order + The ‘Flossing’ That Dials Down Pain by 61%
Woman's World discusses how to find relief for sciatica pain according to experts including Nicholas R. Beatty, DO, RMSK, physiatrist at HSS.
When sciatica pain flares, it can make it difficult to do even simple activities like walking the dog or bending over to pick up a bag of groceries. So it’s natural to want effective relief fast. But if you’ve heard that using heat or ice for sciatica can help, you’re probably wondering which one is your best bet (hint: it’s both!). Here’s what the physicians have to say, plus more easy home tips to stop sciatica pain in a hurry.
When sciatica pain first flares up, you’ll want to start by using ice for a few days. Ice works as a temporary numbing agent that can reduce discomfort when your pain first arises. “Typically, ice is used as an analgesic or pain reliever. It blocks superficial pain fibers and alters the experience of pain,” explained Dr. Beatty, dulling the ache.
Dr. Beatty suggests using ice for the first 48 to 72 hours of a sciatica flare to decrease nerve pain signaling, which should ease the ache. Simply wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a cloth or towel to prevent the ice from directly touching your skin, which could cause frostbite. Then lie down and apply the ice pack to your lower back two to three times a day for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, he recommends.
After 72 or so, once the worst pain has subsided, bringing on the heat can help relieve stiffness by encouraging your lower back muscles to relax. “It brings new blood flow to the muscles to address residual tightness that’s common with sciatica,” Dr. Beatty said.
To reduce the risk of burns, the heating pad or hot water bottle should be warm but not hot to the touch. And again, wrap it in a cloth or towel so it’s not in direct contact with your skin. Then lie down and place the heating pad on your back for 20 to 30 minutes, two to three times daily, Dr. Beatty advised. You can use heat for as many days as needed to reduce muscle tightness.
Read the full article at womansworld.com.