One of the first treatments you can utilise to help your sciatica pain yourself is to use heat and/or ice to get immediate relief. Just about anyone can tell you this. The question is do you use heat, cold or both? Well, this actually depends on your particular symptoms. Some doctors will tell you to use alternating heat and cold therapy. Some will tell you to use hot and others will tell you to use cold. You really need to know what your problem is first before you will know what therapy you should use. There are some general rules to follow once you know what you have.
Is your pain acute and almost unbearable? This generally indicates that you have inflammation or swelling in the damaged area. If this is the case, you will want to apply a cold pack or ice to that region. On the other hand, if you are experiencing some stiffness and soreness that indicates that you have very little inflammation or none at that time the best treatment for these symptoms is a hot compress. Whichever symptoms you have, remember to apply your cold/heat compress for no longer than 20 minutes.
It is a good idea to know when your stiffness or pain came about. Ideally, you want to avoid applying hot compresses right away. Generally, you should wait for forty-eight hours. The reason for this is to make sure you don’t have inflammation. Initially, heat may make you feel better but what it is actually doing at this point is to deaden your nerves. Heat can actually bring about more inflammation causing your pain to become worse. Rule of thumb is, if you are not sure which situation you have, try to avoid applying hot compresses until you know exactly what you have.
Doctors will advise applying ice packs or other cold compresses when inflammation is present. Cold treatments are good anti-inflammatory therapies even though at first it may not feel good. The long-term effect will out weigh the short-term discomfort.
No matter which therapy you are using make sure not to place a hot or cold pack directly on your back. It is best to protect your skin from extreme temperatures by placing a towel between your pack and skin. In addition, it is not a good idea to apply a hot/cold pack to an area where you have previously applied topical creams or gels. These topical medications include Ben Gay or thermal sheets that you can buy at the grocery store or pharmacy. Applying hot/cold compresses after these topical medications may cause discomfort or do damage to your skin.
One of the simplest sciatica self help therapies you can do is to apply hot/cold compresses. To know which one you should do depends whether you have inflammation or not. Remember, apply cold with inflammation and that should do the trick. When in doubt, talk to your health-care provider or pharmacist. They will set you straight.