Sciatica is a condition when pain radiates from the lower back, down through the leg, possibly as far as the feet. It occurs when the sciatic nerve is irritated, which can occur because of other conditions, such as spinal arthritis, or lumbar spinal stenosis. But it can also occur as a result of sitting for extended periods of time, especially with poor posture and therefore is closely associated with office workers. In this blog, we are going to look at several steps you can take to relieve this pain in the office.
Use Heat/Cold Packs
Heat packs can help reduce pain by warming up our muscles and nerves, causing them to expand and loosen. Cold packs help by reducing unwanted inflammation, and removing excess heat. The key to using these packs to address your pain is to know when to use each one.
Heat should be applied before an activity. By loosening up the muscles, heat can help us prepare for movement, meaning our muscles will be under less stress when it actually begins. Heat packs followed by some stretches before an activity is the most effective way to reduce pain. If your pain is at its worst in the morning, keep a heat pack in your bedside locker and use it for a few minutes before you get out of bed. If your pain is at its worst in the afternoon, keep the pack in your desk and use it for the final 20 minutes of the working day.
On the flip-side, cold packs are most effective when used after an activity. Whatever the activity is, moving around stretches our muscles and causes them to heat up. This can lead to inflammation, which could be the cause of your sciatic pain. If this is the case, applying a cold pack after an activity will help your muscles cool down and reduce inflammation, thereby reducing your pain.
Unfortunately, so many jobs these days involve sitting or standing in the same place for more or less the entire day. This can lead to all sorts of pain and other health issues, with sciatica being one of the most commonly reported. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to break this cycle. Simply make sure that you never remain sedentary for too long. You should try and take a ten-minute walk several times throughout the day.
Depending on your job (and how strict your supervisor is), the best way to do this is to adhere to the 52/17 rule. A study conducted for an app known as DeskTime examined all the employees of a company, tracking how much they work and how much they get done. They found that the top 10% of productive workers generally worked for 52 minutes at a time, before taking a 17-minute break. This allows our minds to stay focused, without becoming overworked. Following this schedule gives you enough time to regularly move about, which will help prevent pain, and could even improve the quality of your work!
As mentioned above, one of the primary problems with sciatica is that people do not have good posture. Some of us slouch, while others hunch, but generally, we could all improve our sitting posture. The easiest way to do this is to think of your body in right angles. When sitting, your eyes should be level with the center of your screen. Your ears should be directly above your shoulders, which are in turn directly above your hips. Your hips should form a right angle heading towards your knees, which should form another right angle down to your feet. Your feet, directly below your knees, will then form a right angle with the floor.
It can feel strange trying to readjust how you sit, or you may simply find that the new posture isn’t helping as much as you had hoped. If this is the case, you may find that a physio cushion can help. These can help guide your back to the proper posture, as well as offer support, and even a simple massage as well. These combined should take a great deal of tension off the sciatic nerve, reducing irritation, and lessening the pain you feel.
Sciatica on its own is not a worrying condition, but it can cause us physical pain and even mental distress. This will only worsen over time, so addressing the problem and finding a solution that works for you is the best way to get rid of that pain in both the short and long term.