Prolonged sitting while performing a desk job combined with poor posture can create stress on the lumbar (lower back) spine and increase the likelihood of compressing, irritating, inflaming, or pinching the sciatic nerve causing pain in the lower back and radiating pain down the legs. This pain is known as sciatica. Typically, sciatica is experienced on one side of the body.
Sciatica can be experienced as dull, aching pain or intense pain. The pain may be intermittent or persistent and chronic.
If you have sciatica and your occupation involves prolonged sitting, here are some ways to manage your sciatica.
1. Take short breaks
Research published by the National Library of Medicine noted that prolonged sitting can stress the lower spine by increasing pressure on the spinal discs by nearly 40%. This increased pressure can irritate, compress, or pinch the sciatic nerve triggering your sciatica. Take short walk breaks while at work. Walking helps to improve muscle flexibility, reduces stress, and improves the flow of blood and nutrition to the spine. Stretches can also be beneficial in reducing your sciatica pain. Seated stretches can be performed during short breaks to increase flexibility and reduce stress on the sciatic nerve.
2. Use an ergonomic chair with lumbar support
Ergonomic chairs that align with your spine and provide lumbar (lower back) can help improve your posture while sitting and support your spine to reduce stress. You can also add lumbar support to your existing chair to help reduce stress to your lower back and aid you in sitting upright.
3. Practice good posture
Good posture while sitting can greatly reduce stress on the spine thereby relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve. To maintain a good posture while sitting, your spine should be aligned to your head and hips and your knees should not be higher than your hips. Raise or lower your chair to rest your feet on the floor. If you cannot lower your chair, use a footrest to maintain your posture. Do not lean forward or hunch but sit upright.
4. Alternate to a standing desk
If possible, switch your desk so that you can alternate between sitting and standing positions. Standing is an active process and can help in relieving stress to the spine in the lower back thereby relieving your sciatica.
5. Position your desk and computer monitor correctly
If your desk and monitor are not aligned at the correct height, it can lead to poor posture. Improper position or height of your desk or computer or monitor can make you lean forward or hunch. Place your monitor or computer so that it is at eye level to you. Use a stand to elevate it so that it is positioned correctly corresponding to your height.
6. Use hot/cold therapy
Hot or cold therapy can help you to relax strained muscles, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain. Use warm compresses or a cool gel pack on the lower back region just above the pelvic area for 10-15 minutes per session. Alternating between hot and cold packs can reduce your pain and provide much-needed relief.
In addition to these self-care steps, regular exercising is a great way to improve muscle strength, increase flexibility, reduce stress, and improve overall health and manage your sciatica. Sciatica exercises and stretches including a knee to chest stretch, pelvic tilt, glute stretches, and walking can help reduce pain and manage your sciatica.
Remission is possible for sciatica
Managing your sciatica while at the office with self-care can reduce the intake of pain medications and improve mobility. However, if your sciatica continues to worsen or it is affecting your work productivity, consult a medical professional. Treatment options for sciatica including safe, pain-free non-surgical spinal decompression, spinal manipulation, physical therapy, and massage therapy can help reduce pain and treat your sciatica.
Needing to speak to one of our professionals about your options when it comes to your Sciatica Pain and your workplace? Contact us today to set up your consultation.