3 Techniques for Coping with Chronic Sciatica

If you suffer from chronic sciatica, you have likely tried all sorts of passive sciatica treatments—and have found mixed results.

sciatica nerve pain Sciatica is not a medical diagnosis, but rather a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
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What You Need to Know About Sciatica

While no single treatment works for everyone, any of these three techniques for coping with chronic sciatic pain may help you better manage your sciatica symptoms. As a bonus, these techniques allow you to take an active role in your treatment.

See Sciatica Treatment

Before you utilize any of the coping techniques described below, find a dark, secluded room. Next, engage in 2 to 3 minutes of controlled breathing—then you are ready to try one of the following:

See Chronic Pain Coping Techniques - Pain Management

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1. Disassociation

As you likely know by now, the location of your sciatica symptoms can vary based on which one of your sciatic nerve roots is pinched or irritated. So it’s possible to experience symptoms in a variety of places; such as your calf, foot, or hamstring (and symptoms may be experienced in multiple locations at once).

See Sciatica Symptoms

Regardless of the location of your symptoms, imagine that particular part of your body as separated from the rest of your body. For example, picture your foot on the chair located on the other side of the room. You can then tell your foot to remain there, as you continue to hold the picture in your mind.

2. Sensory splitting to relieve chronic sciatic pain

Pain is not the only sensation that is associated with chronic sciatica—you may also feel burning, numbness, or tingling. If you experience multiple kinds of sensations at once, you can try the coping technique known as sensory splitting.

See Leg Pain and Numbness: What Might These Symptoms Mean?

As the name implies, this technique involves separating multiple sciatica-related sensations into individual sensations. For example, if you are experiencing both pain and a burning sensation, try to separate the two and focus only on the sensation of heat.

See Chronic Pain As a Disease: Why Does It Still Hurt?

3. Symbolic imagery

We all know how powerful a symbol can be. A single item or picture can represent so much, whether it is the flag of a nation or a drawing from our childhood.

With the symbolic imagery technique, start by selecting an irritating image that represents your chronic sciatica symptoms. There is no right or wrong symbol—just pick something that makes sense to you. For example, you might choose an obnoxiously bright lightbulb.

Next, slowly reduce the irritating qualities associated with the image you have selected. In the case of the lightbulb, you can slowly reduce the intensity of the light until the bulb goes dark. This mental action represents the waning of your chronic sciatica symptoms.

Regardless of which technique you choose, try to work your way up to 30 minute sessions at least three times per week.

See 11 Chronic Pain Control Techniques

And if you haven’t already, make sure to have the underlying cause of your sciatica diagnosed. This is important because your chronic sciatic pain may be more than a nuisance—it might be a warning signal alerting you to a serious medical problem.

Sciatica Causes

Learn more:

Myths About Sciatica Treatment Options

Modern Theories of Chronic Pain

Post written by Andrew Moeller