BPS #054 Is Heat Or Cold Better For Sciatica Pain

Today, we’re going to talk about is heat or cold better for sciatica pain? To give you a bit of a backstory here, I’m going to tell you this story about Tanya. Of course, that’s a made-up name, but Tanya is a real person. She’s 20 years old. She’s female and she’s eight months pregnant. She has a lot of sciatica pain down her left leg.

She’s not taking any pain medication. She doesn’t want to take an MRI. She doesn’t want to have any treatment whatsoever, because she’s really afraid that anything that she does is going to affect her baby in her stomach.

She has had two miscarriages before so she’s very, very conscious about that. She doesn’t want to do anything that could slightly have any chance to affect the baby. So that’s what we have to work with. So internally, of course, as a mother eight months pregnant, she’s feeling really stressed, just even if you don’t have sciatica or back pain, if you have a kid.

She’s gained 20 kilos. She has aches and pains all over her body, and she can barely walk. She’s actually using crutches at the moment walking. So she’s feeling very stressed. Her whole body’s changing. She has this extra person in her body.

So externally, she’s using these crutches and she also has this, an Essie belt that she puts around her hips just to push everything together. So she’s using that, she’s using the crutches, and she’s avoiding stairs.

Whenever she’s sitting down as well, she needs to sit a bit higher. So when she’s sitting down in a sofa or something like that, she can’t get up by herself. That also irritates her back and sciatica quite bad.

So like two or three weeks back, she was visiting someone ,and they didn’t have something higher to sit on so she sat down with some help. They put her in the chair. The problem was when she was going to stand up. Something popped in her back. She could feel it and that pain, the sciatica pain, down her left leg increased quite a bit.

She also, after this incident, felt like she had to go to the bathroom more often, but it’s hard to tell because if you’re pregnant and you have gained that weight, usually you have to go to the bathroom more often as well. So we can’t really be 100% sure that that sciatica or that pressure on the nerve is causing that extra thing to go to the bathroom, but something we definitely can put together is that the extra press on the sciatica nerve is doing the radiation down her left leg and the tingling and the burning sensation that’s very, very common.

She also feels like she has a like a knife in her butt. It’s very, very common symptoms when you have sciatica. So anyway, the only thing that’s really helped Tanya over the past few weeks is when she goes in and she has a cold shower, these showers are between five to seven minutes long and they’re really cold, especially she has it on her back and her buttocks and her legs, and it feels really nice.

She’s been having these showers maybe three or four of them every day now, for the past weeks and that’s feeling nice. So when she came to me, she had this question. What’s better to use, hot or cold, on my back or for my sciatica?

So what I told her was that the warmth, if you have heat on it, that you could have heat before you’re doing some exercises, before you’re going to do exercise. You apply that heat on your buttocks and your lower back just to ease the muscles to relax more and also when you’re doing the exercises and if that feels good, you can do some light, light stretching, but very, very light stretching.

But if when you’re doing the exercises and with exercise, I’m more or less just meaning, moving around day to day stuff, if that irritates you, you could apply more cold to the sciatica nerve. And why do that? It’s basically that you make the sciatica nerve to relax. That’s what’s happening and you’re also decreasing the inflammation or the irritation around the nerve.

So hot and cold, you can use both when you have sciatica, and I often recommend my patients that when they go to bed, they have like a heat pack next to their bed and before they get up out of bed or from a couch or a stool or whatever, they could apply this heat pad on their lower back or their hip or their buttocks for five to ten minutes, just to get the muscles to relax. Apply that, get up, do what you’re going to do, and then when you go back sitting, lying down, you can apply a cold pack just to make everything relax.

So if you haven’t tried that and you have sciatica and you don’t want to have like take pills, have acupuncture, have traction, or any of that, you just want to go all natural and do it yourself, try this hot and cold thing. That could really work for you.

So the achievement Tanya has gone through right now is that she’s reduced her sciatica pain. She still feels sciatica pain. Don’t get me wrong. She’s suffering still but she’s not using any pills whatsoever. She hasn’t had her MRI. No one is really touching her and she’s doing everything to protect her baby and that’s the most important thing for her right now. This hot and cold thing is working for her so she’s going to continue to do that.

So the transformation and the goal she has in between maybe four to six weeks, she’s going to be able to give birth to her kid here, and she’s done everything humanly possible for herself to make sure that she hasn’t affected her child in any way. So she’s really happy about that.

Also she’s using this sciatica belt. It’s a good thing if you’re pregnant and you have pain in your lower back. There’s a specific belt that you could put like around your hips and there’s a place for the stomach as well so you can use it, and that pushes your hips together and that usually feels nice.

Guys, take care, okay? That’s about what I had for you today. I’m going go out for a swim now. I’m going to play some tennis with my kids and I’m going to have a great day. Take care.

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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.