Because of weakening bones and muscles, elderly people are prone to developing sciatica, which can result in tremendous pain. When the nerve in the lower back and buttock of one or both sides flair up and causes pain and weakness in the leg, it’s most likely sciatica. Family caregivers that are assisting an elderly loved-one with sciatica may be able to provide some relief from the pain as well as working with them to help overcome the condition or at least minimize the effects.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a health condition where the sciatic nerve is compressed or inflamed, causing pain and sometimes immobility. The sciatic nerve, which runs from the spine down through the legs via the buttocks, is the longest nerve in the body. It becomes compressed due to disc degeneration, although there can be other causes such as scoliosis, osteoporosis, spinal osteoarthritis and other weak bone conditions. Obesity can contribute to this painful condition, as can sleeping on a bad mattress.
Seniors with sciatica experience burning pain in their lower back and across the back of their legs. They may also feel it in their upper thighs when sitting down or standing up. Some seniors with extreme sciatica report tingling and numbness in the feet. The more inflamed and irritated the sciatic nerve is, the worse the pain will be for the elderly person.
Helping Seniors with Sciatica Relief
While there is no real cure for sciatica, there are definitely some things that family caregivers can do to ease the pain and discomfort. Over the counter pain relief is the first step in easing the burning sensation and allowing seniors to be more mobile. Spine stretches can also help alleviate pain in the sciatic nerve. Sometimes, cold packs or heat can provide temporary relief from sciatica. Also, if the elderly person is overly active, rest can bring relief from the nerve pain.
Family members, family caregivers, and elder care assistants can help elderly people do simple moves like a supported press-up, where the senior lies on their stomach and props up onto their elbows. Another stretch is a pelvic tilt, where seniors lie back and bend their knees, tilting the pelvic bone upward. A physical therapist can provide even more insight into different stretches that are appropriate for seniors with sciatica. Many seniors find relief through regular physical therapy sessions. Steroid injections are another way to relieve pain stemming from sciatica. In extreme cases, surgery may be the last resort to deal with pain that can’t be managed any other way.
No matter what level of pain an elderly person is suffering, it’s clear that sciatica can negatively interfere with daily living and cause seniors to suffer with a lower quality of life. The best thing that family caregivers and their aging loved-ones can do is to be proactive in pain management and look for all kinds of guidance from a health care professional about additional steps to take.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering homecare in Huntington Beach, CA, please contact the caring staff at Canaan Home Care today!