Sciatica is a symptom that can be due to various other conditions causing nerve impingement in the lower spine. The shooting pain, numbness, or tingling of sciatica appears when your sciatic nerve — the longest nerve in your body — becomes compressed. This can happen due to spine conditions, such as:
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
Regardless of its cause, sciatica is uncomfortable and distracting.
Injuries that cause sciatica may interfere with your work productivity, and we have some helpful tips. Glenn M. Flanagan, MD, evaluates sciatica at Naples Regenerative Institute in Naples, Florida, and can confirm its underlying cause. In this blog, he provides four effective strategies for managing sciatica at work.
1. Take frequent breaks
Do you work in a position that requires a lot of sitting? Your prolonged perch could be aggravating your sciatica. Sitting increases pressure on the discs in your lower spine by up to 40%, increasing stress on and compressing nerves in the region.
If you have access to a standing desk, consider using that instead of a typical desk. If not, or if your fitness doesn’t allow prolonged standing, take intermittent breaks to stand up and walk around. Over time, you can stand for more extended periods.
2. Practice better posture
Good posture reduces back pain and associated symptoms like sciatica. Whether your job requires a lot of standing, sitting, walking, or a combination, there are ways to optimize your posture.
The first step in improving your posture is to become more mindful of your body’s position. Avoid slouching by pulling your shoulders back. Whether standing or sitting, hold your shoulders above your hips and your ears above your shoulders while keeping your chin parallel to the floor.
Dr. Flanagan can help you develop better posture over time.
3. Walk around
Even if your job requires plenty of sitting or standing still, taking a walk during your workday is an excellent strategy for reducing pain. Light exercise increases blood flow and nutrition for your spinal discs, which makes them stronger and better able to handle stress.
If you have trouble breaking your focus for short walking breaks, setting reminders on your phone or computer can keep you alert.
4. Alternate using heat and cold for relief
Heating pads and cold packs can provide sciatica pain relief at work. When you apply heat to the area, it increases blood flow by warming your nerves and muscles. Using cold on the area reduces inflammation. Alternate between hot and cold, and be sure to place a barrier (e.g., a cloth) between your skin and the hot or cold pack.
Exploring your professional treatment options
When self-management doesn’t control your sciatica, our office provides a range of state-of-the-art treatments that may reduce your sciatica more effectively. Following a detailed consultation, Dr. Flanagan directs you to the most effective therapies for your pain. Most focus on healing the cause of the underlying nerve impingement to alleviate sciatica.
Dr. Flanagan may recommend:
- Epidural injections
- Therapeutic nerve block injections
- Stem cell therapy
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
- MLS laser therapy
You’ll also benefit from physical therapy to support healing and reduce sciatica.
Going to work with sciatica is a harsh reality for many people with low back problems. Still, there are ways to reduce sciatica pain's impact on your productivity. For more tips on treating or managing sciatica pain, call Naples Regenerative Institute or schedule a visit online today.