Why are people sometimes advised to use hot-cold therapy for sciatica pain symptoms? Anyone who has had sciatica knows just how painful it can be so are not usually inclined to ask why, they just want help.
At the Sciatic Pain Relief Cushion we believe being informed on helpful things to try and the reason you are doing them is helpful for your recovery.
So here is the reason why hot-cold therapy could be useful for those experiencing sciatic pain symptoms.
- Cold – The primary reason for applying cold to the affected area is to reduce inflammation and swelling. Nerves have an inner core and an outer sheath. The inner core is supposed to be able to slide inside the outer sheath. When the sciatic nerve is inflamed it is usually the outer sheath of the nerve that swells causing pressure and pain. By applying cold you can reduce the swelling and relieve some of the pressure helping the nerve to function, as it should.
- Heat – Applying heat in the area of pain helps to relax the muscles and infuse the area with blood to speed up healing. Relaxed muscles are good as they put less pressure on the sciatic nerve than tight and stiff guarded muscles.
In a previous blog we have written how this knowledge can be usefully applied when having a massage for sciatica and using both heat and cold in the same treatment. This blog is worth a read as it gives guidance on where you need to apply the heat and cold and some guidance on timings. For classic sciatica, which is caused by nerve root irritation in the lower back (lumbar region – L4, L5, S1) this will be the most likely area to apply the hot-cold therapy for sciatica to even if this is not where the most discomfort is experienced.
In the acute phase of sciatica, i.e., new and very painful it is important to use this technique regularly through out the day. Using ice can be messy and awkward (water dripping everywhere) or you can waste a lot of garden peas!
A hot-cold pack (can be cooled or heated) is more convenient, less mess and moulds better to your body so for people that periodic have flare ups of sciatica can be a good investment. Used in conjunction with the Sciatic Pain Relief Cushion it can help you on the road to recovery.