September 15, 2023
It happens to all of us at some point.
There you are, going about your normal day and feeling pretty healthy overall, with no pressing “health concerns” or issues, and then you feel a twinge in your back.
And immediately you know something has gone seriously wrong.
At first, you try to just brush it off, thinking that you’ve had twinges of pain and that they’ve usually gone away on their own.
But this time it’s different. The good night’s sleep that you thought would cure your back pain didn’t do the trick, and in fact your pain seems to have gotten worse overnight.
Here’s an important concept you need to grasp (and quickly): when lower back pain strikes, if you don’t treat it quickly, it can leave you suffering for a lot longer than necessary.
This is exactly what happened to one of my patients, Michele, last week…
Michele came to see me with a great deal of pain in her lower back…pain so bad that she could hardly get out of bed in the morning without help from her husband (taking about 20 minutes just to get upright!)
It all started one day when she was rushing to finish off a load of laundry one evening. When she bent down to pick up the basket, she experienced a sharp pain in her back that left her hunched over.
Like most of us, she figured a couple days of “taking it easy” would do the trick, and she’d be back to normal in no time. Unfortunately, her couple days of rest turned into several weeks.
Not only that, but all of the sitting and resting was actually making her back pain worse, and her pain gradually started to shoot down the back of her left buttocks and into her leg.
We call this type of pain shooting into the leg “sciatica” (aka “sciatic nerve pain”)
In Michele’s case, her lower back pain and sciatica have been caused by a bulging disc in her spine. Her bulging disc is now putting some pressure on her sciatic nerve, causing pain as well as some numbness and tingling in her leg.
So what did Michele do wrong? And what can she do to cure her back and sciatic pain?
The #1 Biggest Mistake Back Pain & Sciatica Sufferers Make
You may have already picked up on this, but Michele’s biggest mistake is that she tried to ignore her pain and thought that resting would make it better. Many people compound this mistake by taking painkillers, which only mask the pain, and they often make themselves worse in the process.
You may be asking yourself this question: “Why doesn’t resting help?” It seems like it should right?
In this case, Michele’s resting was primarily sitting down. And while sitting can feel good for brief periods when you have a bulging disc, it’s actually putting a ton of pressure on the disc. If you’ve ever had a bulging disc, you’ve probably experienced this… It feels good to sit, but then when you try to stand up…ouch, even worse than before!
Okay, so we know what Michele did wrong. What can she do to start experiencing pain relief?
3 Tips to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain (Sciatica)
->> Tip #1: Avoid sitting for more than 5 minutes (too much pressure on the discs)
->> Tip #2: Start to slowly stretch your spine backwards. Try standing with your hands on your hips, then slowly try to bend back and hold for 10 seconds. This may be a bit uncomfortable at first, but ease your way into it.
->> Tip #3: When the pain is severe, lie flat on your back with your legs supported by your couch or by several pillows under your knees (resist the urge to curl up into a ball on your side – like sitting, this may feel good at the time but is actually making the disc worse)
If you can follow these 3 tips, you’ve got a good shot at starting to reduce your disc bulge and removing the pressure from your sciatic nerve.
One word of caution before you start: these tips and principles work extremely well when you’re treating sciatica pain caused by a bulging disc. If you’re not sure what’s causing your lower back pain and sciatica, and you’d like to figure it out before you try to treat your own pain, please read the announcement below.
If you’d like more information about how to recover from Back Pain and Sciatica, I’m hosting my “Back Pain & Sciatica” Workshop on Thursday, 10/12/23, at 11:00 a.m. via Zoom!
This 60-minute workshop is completely FREE to attend but limited to the first 25 people who register.
During the workshop, we’ll focus on 2 main areas: understanding what causes back pain and sciatica and learning how to pick effective treatment options for your type of pain.
To reserve your seat at this workshop, call us at the clinic at (509) 892-5442, or visit https://physicaltherapyspokane.com/back-workshopto reserve your seat online.
I look forward to seeing you there!
To Your Health,
– Luke Gordon, DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy/Owner of Gordon Physical Therapy)
Below is the video version of this blog post. Enjoy 🙂