Sciatica is one of the most common forms of back pain. More than 3 million Americans suffer from it every year, and about 40% of people will suffer from it at some point in their lives.
Sciatica can make it difficult for you to do almost everything. But driving with sciatica can be especially painful for people. Getting stuck in a car for hours on end can cause you to experience pain and numbness in your lower back, buttocks, and legs due to sciatica.
Are you planning on taking a road trip sometime soon? Whether you’re going to be in the car for a few hours or a few days, there are ways to successfully manage driving with sciatica.
Here are several things you can do to reduce your sciatica-related pain while driving.
Pack Plenty of Over-The-Counter Medications
One of the most effective ways to treat the inflammation associated with sciatica is by utilizing over-the-counter medications.
Your doctor might be able to recommend specific types of OTC medications that will work best for you based on your diagnosis. But when driving with sciatica, it never hurts to pack a few basic OTC medications for the ride.
Medications that contain ingredients like ibuprofen and naproxen are usually best for those with sciatica. They’ll help knock out any inflammation you’re experiencing and make it easier to deal with your sciatica.
Just make sure you pay attention to the directions on the labels for your OTC medications. You don’t want to take too many medications at once and suffer consequences in other areas of your health. You also don’t want to take anything that could impair your ability to drive.
Apply Heat and/or Ice to Your Back in Regular Intervals
Those who are suffering from sciatica can use both heat and ice to treat their lower backs. Heat and ice can both help bring down the inflammation caused by sciatica and provide a person with real relief while they drive.
It’s a good idea to put both a heating pad and an ice pack into your car when you’re planning on being in it for a while. You can put them on your back to make it feel better when it starts to get sore.
It’s usually best to leave heat or ice on your back for about 20 minutes at a time before taking a break. This will help you avoid irritating your skin while delivering the temporary relief you need in doses.
Equip Your Seat With a Supportive Cushion
When you know you’re going to be sitting down for long stretches of time, you should make every effort to support your spine, your legs, and, of course, your sciatic nerve. This can be done through the use of a supportive cushion.
There are so many benefits that come along with sticking a supportive cushion behind you when you’re in the car. It’ll keep the blood flowing throughout your body and distribute the pressure that’s placed on your back while you drive evenly.
Test out a bunch of supportive cushions before you buy the one that feels the best for you. It’ll be well worth the investment that you make into it when you’re driving around.
Make Sure You’re Practicing Good Posture at All Times
A supportive cushion can work wonders when you’re driving with sciatica. But it’s not going to do you a whole lot of good if you don’t practice good posture.
You can practice good posture when you’re in the car by:
- Pulling your shoulders back
- Lining up your shoulders with your hips
- Doing your best to keep your spine aligned
Your good posture will reduce the strain put on your back and stop your sciatica from flaring up. It’ll also make a lot of the other parts of your body, including your neck and legs, feel so much better.
Pull Over and Stretch Every So Often
Whether you have sciatica or not, you should get into the habit of taking breaks when you’re driving long distances. Most experts recommend taking a 15-minute break about once every two hours.
People who are driving with sciatica may need to stop even more often than that. Additionally, you will need to get into the habit of using your breaks to stretch your back and the rest of your body out.
Some good stretches for sciatica sufferers are:
- Sitting pigeon pose
- Sitting spinal stretch
- Standing hamstring stretch
Move slowly while performing these types of sciatica stretches and take deep breaths at the same time. It should keep your back loose while you drive.
Try Not to Make Your Trips in the Car Too Long
As you’ve no doubt noticed by now, driving and sciatica don’t mix. No matter how hard you try to stop sciatica from slowing a road trip down, it’s going to rear its ugly head at some point and cause you a lot of pain.
For this reason, you should try not to make trips in the car too long. You’re going to be asking for trouble if you push yourself to the limit.
Stick to shorter trips around town, and if you’re planning a business trip or vacation, think about flying rather than subjecting your sciatica to hours upon hours of sitting in the car.
Driving With Sciatica Can Be Difficult, But It’s Not Impossible to Do
Driving with sciatica is just one of the many challenges that those with the condition face. Some people will stop driving altogether because of the sciatica symptoms they have to deal with when they get behind the wheel.
The tips found here should prevent you from having to do that. You can ride around in a car without experiencing bad back pain by putting our advice to good use.
Would you like to discover some of the other things you can do to make a road trip more comfortable for everyone going on it? Take a look at our blog to get great advice for those going on road trips.