Have you been experiencing pain, numbness and a tingling sensation that starts start in your lower back and radiates down your butt and leg? It could be sciatica. In fact, sciatica is actually the name of the pain itself, signaling irritation to your sciatic nerve. This is the longest and widest nerve in your body.
Inversion therapy, as on an inversion table, is an effective treatment for back pain. It decompresses the spinal column and improves circulation and range of motion. But, can inversion therapy work for sciatica, which affects more than just your back? Let’s take a look at the causes and symptoms of sciatica. These will help you to better understand why using an inversion table for relief is a good idea.
Different people are affected by sciatica in different ways. Sciatica may be short term (acute), typically treated with over-the-counter painkillers, exercise, heat and ice. Even without this treatment, the pain and discomfort from acute sciatica often subsides within a few weeks.
With long-term (chronic) sciatica the condition persists and may require physical therapy. There are a few rare cases where surgery is used as the best treatment option for someone with chronic sciatica.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Doctors view minimal back pain accompanied by excess butt and leg pain as a sign of the condition. Symptoms usually include:
- Lower back pain
- Hip pain
- Pain in one leg or the rear that is worse when sitting
- Difficulty standing up due to a shooting pain
- A constant pain on one side of the rear
- Burning or tingling down one leg
- Weakness along the nerve’s path from your lower back to your toes
- Numbness that is not in the same location as the weakness
- Difficulty moving a particular leg or foot
- Coughing or sneezing that causes a quick jolt of pain
Causes of Sciatica
The most common cause is a herniated disc. The discs, which cushion the vertebrae of the spine, serve as protection for the spinal cord. They allow you to bend, twist and enjoy the flexibility of a wide range of motion. A herniated one is damaged and presses on the nerves of the spinal cord.
Other less common causes of sciatica include:
- Spinal stenosis - narrowing of the spinal passages through which the nerve runs
- Spinal injury
- Spinal infection
- A tumor or other growth within the spine
Avoiding a Herniated Disc
It is not always possible to prevent sciatica once you have a herniated disc, but you can take steps to minimize your risk of developing a herniation. These include learning the correct posture for standing, sitting, driving and lifting. Along with these you should:
- Consider getting a more supportive mattress
- Get regular exercises
- Ensure you stretch before and after you exercise
Consider An Inversion Table For Sciatica
An inversion table stretches and decompresses your spine by reversing the action of gravity on it. This relieves pressure on the nerve roots and discs while at the same time allowing fluid to flow into the discs and plump them back up. There are many other benefits of using an inversion table. These include:
- Stress reduction
- Improved blood and lymph circulation
- Muscle relaxation
- Development of good posture
It only takes a few minutes each day on the inversion table for most people to get back to enjoying life without the pain and discomfort of sciatica. Initially, do just 1 – 2 minutes of inversion a few times daily. After a few weeks, when you are more used to it, you can increase this to several 5-minute stints daily. You can also incorporate stretches and other inversion table exercises for sciatica as you decompress.
It is good to know that inversion therapy for sciatica does not require that you get fully inverted.
- Even an angle of 15 degrees is enough for you to start feeling some benefit.
- Most of the benefits come from a maximum inversion angle of 60 degrees and by doing gentle stretches, such as twisting your body side-to-side.
- A good stretch is to grab hold of the opposite side of the table as you rotate up on to one shoulder, stretching your body.
- Something as simple as stretching your arms over your head while inverted does a world of good as well.
The symptoms of sciatica may be worsened by the inactivity of standing, sitting or driving for a long time as well as by protracted bed rest. Heavy lifting and extreme twisting of your spine are also possible ways in which sciatica is made worse. Stretching on an inversion table can help to relieve the symptoms without the need for painkillers.
Inversion tables are readily available for purchase and are relatively inexpensive. You can set up the table in a short amount of time and they are quite easy to use. If you do have sciatica or think you may, it’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before starting on inversion. Once you get the green light, you may join the thousands of users who have successfully treated their sciatic pain with inversion therapy.