When sciatica type symptoms get the better of you and nothing you do seems to make it better, here is a guide, a checklist for suggested corrective actions and treatments. (Synthesized from my 19 years as a Neuromuscular Therapist in the Boston area and from the medical text by Drs.Travell and Simons, Myofacial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, Vols I and II.)
12) Self-treat your muscles with pressure and massage, ice or heat (ice for pain and muscle spasm 1-5 minutes, moist heat for achiness and stiffness 1-5 minutes. (See my post on Ice or Heat)
13) Treat medical conditions and disease as your doctor prescribes.
14) Try Physical Therapy procedures including “boot camp” for the back. If these make your symptoms consistently worse, you probably have hyperactive Trigger Points that need to be released before too much exercise is imposed. (Too much exercise overloads muscles that are working 24/7 due to Trigger Point activity.) Modalities like ultrasound can help as can myofascial and positional release techniques and craniosacral therapy.
15) Reduce stress! It’s a huge factor in back pain. Pay attention to the mind-body connection. Breathe, do visualizing, talk to your back side :-). John Sarno, MD has two short books about this subject called Healing Back Pain and Mind Over Back Pain.
16) Massage Therapy and Deep Tissue Work are great for increasing circulation, reducing stress and eliminating pain-causing waste products.
17) Have surgery only when absolutely nothing else will work. There are plenty of failed back surgeries as well as those that are successful. You can have a herniated disc and not have pain. Bulging discs rarely cause pain.
The posts that follow in this series will expand on this checklist.