Yes, you can lift and carry with sciatica. However, it may be harder to do some of the same activities because of your discomfort and pain.
Sciatica causes compression on the sciatic nerve, which may limit your mobility. However, you may be able to squat with sciatica, especially if it’s mild.
You can try sitting on a foam roller to relieve some of the compression. This may be the best way to start the recovery process. You can also try a few stretches to loosen up the tight muscles.
What else can you do?
You can also:
- Try to do some light stretching to ease the pain.
- Warm up before you start your exercise routine.
- Try not to overtrain.
- Try to keep your back and hips in neutral alignment (90 degrees) while you exercise.
- Make sure you’re using proper form, especially when you’re doing activities that require lower body strength, such as squats.
How to treat sciatica pain?
Treatment for sciatica depends on how long you’ve had sciatica and how severe it’s become.
If you’ve had sciatica for a long time, you may need treatment from a physical therapist. Your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist if you’re unable to do self-care.
Here are some tips for self-care:
- Stop doing the activities that aggravate your pain.
- Rest and avoid activities that can aggravate the pain.
- Increase the activity level slowly.
If you’re unable to do self-care, you may need to have surgery. Your doctor may recommend a spinal fusion to treat your sciatica. They may also recommend other treatments if your pain is severe.
Spinal fusion surgery
The fusion surgery involves taking pieces of bone from your spine and joining them together. The goal is to stabilize the spine and prevent it from moving again.
Some people return to their normal activities after the fusion surgery. If you need a spinal fusion, it’s important to complete the rehabilitation process as directed by your doctor.
If you need to have surgery, you may have:
- Pain, numbness, or weakness that’s bothersome.
- Aching in your lower back, buttocks, or legs.
- Decreased mobility in your back.
Physical therapy may be recommended if you haven’t responded to the treatments above. Physical therapy may include:
- Strengthening exercises to help improve your strength.
- Stretching to help loosen the muscles.
- Strengthening exercises to improve your balance and flexibility.
Your doctor may also suggest massage therapy to help you relax and reduce pain.
When to see a doctor?
If you’re unable to do self-care, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist. They can recommend exercises and other treatments to help you manage your pain.
You should also see your doctor if you:
- Have severe sciatica with a fever or other symptoms of infection.
- Have a herniated disk that’s causing sciatic pain.
- Have a bulging disk that’s causing sciatica.
You should also see your doctor if you have:
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your legs or feet.
- Pain that radiates to your buttock or the back of your thigh.
- A lump in your groin or back.
- Pain that goes away and comes back after resting.
- Pain after a fall or an injury.
- Pain that lasts more than 3 weeks.
- Pain that doesn’t improve with medication.
- Pain that’s getting worse after resting.
- Pain that’s getting worse after you lie on your back for a long period of time (more than 5 hours).
- A severe case of sciatica that’s preventing you from doing daily activities.
Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask about your symptoms. They may also do a neurological exam to check the strength and sensation in your lower back and legs.
Your doctor may also order imaging tests to see how your spine is aligned.
Treatments for sciatica depend on how long you’ve had sciatica and how severe it’s become.
If you have a herniated disk, you may need surgery. This surgery involves removing the disk and replacing it with a artificial disk.
If there’s a bulging disk, you may need surgery to treat it. Your doctor may also recommend a physical therapy program to improve your strength and flexibility.
Treatment may also include:
- Laminectomy: Your doctor may recommend this procedure if a bulging disk is causing severe sciatica, or if a disk fragment is pressing on the nerve.
- Nerve block: Your doctor may give you a local anesthetic and inject it into the sciatic nerve to relieve pain.
- Spinal fusion: Your doctor may refer you to a spinal surgeon for this surgery. They will take pieces of bone from your spine and join them together.
Self-care and home remedies
The following tips can help you manage your pain and improve your mobility.
- Rest and avoid activities that cause pain.
- Try not to lift heavy objects.
- Try to do stretching exercises to ease the pain.
- Try to raise your legs to a 45degree angle when sitting.
- Use a wedge pillow or a foam roller to massage your buttocks.
- Try to do water-based exercises to ease pain.
If home remedies aren’t effective, your doctor may prescribe medication. Your doctor may also recommend pain medication and anti-inflammatory medication to treat sciatica.
Other causes of back pain
Other causes of back pain may include:
- A herniated disk.
- A herniated disk in the neck.
- Muscle strain.
- Muscle spasm.
- Piriformis syndrome.
- Spinal stenosis.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis.
- Back injury.
- Herniated disc in the neck.
- Lumbar disc herniation.
The bottom line
You can’t squat with sciatica. You can with other lower-back issues though.
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