Navigating Sciatica Pain at Work
If you suffer from sciatica, thinking about making it through a workday or week can feel overwhelming. Anticipating the pain and discomfort you might experience can be a significant source of stress, which can compound the pain caused by your sciatica.
For many of us, however, being off work isn’t an option every time our pain flares up or indefinitely until our sciatica is resolved. But, don’t panic. It is possible to navigate work with sciatica and stay productive and pain-free.
Here are some ways to navigate work with sciatica.
Communicate with Your Employer
The first–and probably most important thing–you can do to make working with sciatica easier is to communicate with your employer about your needs and limitations. It can be really helpful to provide your employer with a basic understanding of what sciatica is, what the underlying cause of yours is, and what your symptoms feel like.
With a better understanding, they can try to proactively assign you tasks that don’t exacerbate your pain. If your job requires you to lift heavy objects or engage in activities that exacerbate your sciatica, speak up and request accommodations or adjustments. For example, your employer may be able to provide you with a specialized chair or standing desk or adjust your workload to reduce strain on your back and legs.
Most importantly, by giving your employer a clear picture of what living and working with sciatica is like for you, they can be more empathetic. Having support at work can help alleviate the additional stress that working with sciatica can cause.
Once your employer knows what you’re experiencing, you can start making changes to help keep your discomfort at bay. Ensure that your workspace is set up to support good posture and reduce strain on your back and legs. For example, adjust your chair to the correct height so that your feet can rest flat on the floor, and position your computer monitor at eye level to reduce neck and shoulder strain. If you use machinery or equipment for your job, explore what options exist for making their use more ergonomic. If your job requires you to stand for long periods, consider investing in a cushioned mat to reduce pressure on your feet and legs.
Take Frequent Breaks
Taking frequent breaks throughout the day can help reduce pressure on your back and legs and prevent the onset of pain. Aim to take a 5-10 minute break every hour to stretch your legs, walk around, or do some light exercise. If possible, consider using a standing desk or adjustable workstation to allow for more movement throughout the day.
Incorporating stretching into your daily routine can also help manage sciatica pain. Some effective stretches for sciatica include the piriformis stretch, which involves crossing one leg over the other and pulling the knee toward your chest, and the hamstring stretch, which involves bending forward and reaching toward your toes. Try to incorporate these stretches into your daily routine, and consider using a foam roller or massage ball to target trigger points and tight muscles.
While living and working with sciatica can be stressful and often painful, employing these strategies and tools can help you stay productive and pain-free.
If your sciatica is limiting your ability to work, seeking professional help is worth it. In a randomized clinical trial of non-surgical interventions to treat sciatica, 75% of patients reported improvement within 10 days of treatment.
Contact our team at Cianci Chiropractic Center to book a consultation. We can help come up with a non-surgical, medication-free treatment plan involving spinal manipulations, spinal decompression, chiropractic exercises, and massages that can provide long-term pain relief from sciatica.