Sciatica affects around 10%-40% of the American population. The condition can impact the way you manage everyday activities, and in severe cases, it can be debilitating, requiring surgery. Diagnosing the situation and tackling the pain can help improve your life sooner than later. Do ice baths help sciatica, though? Read on to learn more.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition that develops as a result of a pinched nerve. Sometimes it’s called a “compressed nerve,” “herniated disc,” or “spinal stenosis.”
The sciatic nerve extends from the end of the spinal cord, down the buttocks, and along the back of the thighs. Sometimes sciatica only affects one leg, but it could also affect both legs, causing mirrored discomfort.
Let’s check out some of the symptoms before getting into how ice baths can help. Most people described sciatica pain as a sharp jolt or something quick and electrifying. Other folks agreed that the pain is more like a discomforting burning or stabbing sensation.
Symptoms Of Sciatica Including Inflammation And Complications
Sciatic pain is different for everyone, but people often experience similar complications, which may include:
- Weakness in the knees
- Lumbar (lower) back pain
- Pain radiating from the buttocks down the back of the leg.
- Sometimes, pain can extend all the way down to the feet.
- Pins and needles behind the lower leg
Inflammation has different markers which give them their unique response to various pain conditions such as sciatica. The following is a quick look at these inflammatory markers responsible for sciatica.
Inflammatory markers include the TNF-alpha “tumor necrosis factor-alpha,” the most common for detecting inflammation markers.
The inflammation biomarkers found in patients with sciatica include TNF, C-reactive, and several variants of Interleukin IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-17, and IL-21.
Sciatica can be a gradual process (arthritis or natural wear of the spinal discs), and it could also occur with sudden and immediate effect (pregnancy or an injury). Sciatica pain is also common in athletes as a result of extensive muscle strain. Muscle strain can occur with excessive training.
Sciatica hampers day-to-day tasks when it restricts mobility, making simple things like standing or sitting painful and difficult.
Cold Therapy For Treating Sciatica Pain
Cold therapy is one of the recommended treatments for sciatic pain. Cryotherapy, such as ice packs and cold gels, are viable options for non-invasive and non-surgical therapy. Still, cold water immersion, in the form of ice baths, is a deeper level of treatment that positively affects the body and its different systems.
Ice baths work because they may help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which could influence inflammation and its effects on the body. The low temperatures are known to soothe the burning and swelling that occurs in the legs and back.
Taking an ice bath is a recommended technique for various aches, including back pain. In this instance, the cold treatment may help reduce the back pain associated with sciatica.
Cold baths also help the process of managing sciatica pain because it tackles the following:
- Cold therapy goes to work by numbing the inflamed, sore areas affected.
- By reducing inflammation, it helps soothe the pain.
- It reduces swelling because the cold influences vasoconstriction, reducing blood flow to the affected area.
- Cold water therapy has been shown to lower the chances of spasms that could occur.
- It soothes sore muscles, which may be affected as a result of sciatica.
As a bonus, ice baths also help set and reset your mind and body. Using cold therapy positively affects the parasympathetic system, reducing stress levels and anxiety and improving sleep and circulation.
How To Use Cold Therapy For Treating Sciatica Pain
There are many ways to introduce cold therapy into your life if you’re entirely new to the concept. You can try the following:
Topical cryotherapy calls for the direct application of ice packs or coolant spray, which is one way of reducing the negative burn of sciatica. The cold thus works to reduce the swelling.
Rejuvenate with a Cold Shower
Cold showers can help relieve pain and tension since it has analgesic-like effects. The cold water will also help you feel refreshed and revitalized.
Alternating between warm and cold is another way to incorporate the colder temperature for a therapeutic recovery process. This method of alternating between the two temperatures could reduce tension and induce relaxation.
Go for a Cold Swim
A dip in freezing waters with a few friends is not only an amazing experience on the happy scale but also a healing one. There are possibilities that cold water swimming may help to treat depression and at the same time benefit the immune system.
Take an Ice Bath
Coldwater immersion is an excellent way to expose your whole body to the benefits of hydrotherapy including providing compression on the low bag and legs. An ice bath is easy on the muscles and joints and boosts your body’s natural pain management and recovery systems.
Make Ice Baths Part Of Your Treatment For Sciatica
Now that you know the answer to your question, “do ice baths help sciatica,” it’s time for you to brace for the cold plunge in the comfort of your home. Ice Barrel is an easy to use, low maintenance, and affordable option for ice baths at home.
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Cold therapy, whether through full-body immersion with an ice bath or localized application with an ice pack, has proven to…