Driving With Sciatica Tips

June 23, 2019

Driving with sciatic nerve pain
Kyleigh Roessner RN-BSN

The term sciatica refers to pain, numbness or tingling, that travels along the pathway of the sciatic nerve, beginning at the sacrum, it travels down the body, crosses through the buttocks, and down the leg and through the toes. It is estimated that 40 percent of Americans will experience pain along this nerve, which results in distress and occasionally loss of function.

One of the exacerbating factors of sciatic pain is sitting for long periods of time, making sciatica pain while driving a common occurrence. Here are a few driving with sciatica tips:

Heat It Up/Cool It Down

If you're driving in the car, bring along an ice pack or heating pad to help manage the symptoms until you arrive at your destination. According to Spine-Health, heat and cold therapy are helpful in reducing pain, especially before the condition becomes chronic. Apply heat or cold for 20 minutes, then take a break. You can also alternate hot and cold therapy if you are taking a long road trip.

Medications May Help

Many physicians will recommend that people suffering from sciatica reduce inflammation by taking over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. These medications are mostly safe but there are individuals who should not take them, so be sure to discuss this with your doctor if they might interfere with other drugs you've been described. Take the recommended dose as noted on the packaging.

Regular Stretching

One of the most important driving with sciatica tips is to develop a good routine of regular stretching. The UK's National Health Service has published a list of stretches, complete with pictures and detailed instructions that are beneficial for relieving the tension that can sometimes cause sciatic pain. When you stretch, take deep breaths, avoid bouncing and stop if you start to feel sharp pains.

It may be helpful to stretch before you get in the car, and if possible to do some stretching after you arrive at your destination, or to take regular breaks for stretching.

Perfect Your Posture

Harvard Medical School recommends that people with sciatic nerve pain practice good posture to help manage the condition. Roll you shoulders back, keep your hips in line with your shoulders and make sure your spine is in good alignment. When you are driving, make sure you are positioned ergonomically, with your spine in a comfortable position before you even press on the gas pedal.

Also, they encourage people to strengthen their abdominal muscles to improve core strength and provide additional support to the lower back.

Use a Supportive Cushion

To provide further support for your spine, legs and sciatic nerve, you can explore a variety of supportive cushions that will help you reduce sciatica pain while driving. There are a lot of benefits from using a supportive cushion, as they help you maintain posture, distribute pressure equally and can encourage good blood circulation. A cushion in the car may make your drives much more comfortable.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sciatica is a symptom of something going on in the spine, usually the result of a pinched nerve, either through spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, bone spur or, rarely, a tumor. If your sciatic pain does not get better after four to six weeks of these mild interventions, stretching, NSAID pain medications and rest, then you need to see your physician for a more thorough investigation on what is causing this pain. Surgical intervention may be needed to resolve the issue, although for most patients, (three out of four, Harvard Medical School affirms) sciatica resolves on its own.

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