This episode is entitled “Home treatment of low back pain / sciatica”, and it is meant to teach you the things you can do to help yourself during lockdown or coming out of it. These things include:

  • Exercise
  • The balance of rest and activity
  • Self Massage as home treatment of low back pain
  • Hot and cold
  • TENS as home treatment of low back pain


Any exercise is better than no exercise. Any movement that doesn’t cause you more pain is a good thing. If you’ve had a long term pain, it gets more complicated, because your nervous system is likely to be sensitized and you have kind of very sensitive and weary of doing certain things, and that can be a bad thing. Slowly return to the activities of daily living, you can’t avoid bending forwards for ever. Don’t go from doing nothing to doing 18 holes of golf, for instance. That is the recipe for a setback.

The balance of rest and activity

Piece your recovery. If you’re always bashing at things, you never stop, you’re doing too much and you need to rest more. If you’re very precious and anxious and prone to worrying about things, you’re doing too little and you need to push yourself on a little bit more. Start low and build slow. Use it, but don’t abuse it. Don’t push it to the point where you’re aggravating your injury. If you’ve injured something, give it time to heal. If you keep picking that scab, you’ll go back to the beginning of the injury.

Self massage as home treatment of low back pain

Unless you have a partner or a loved one at home who will massage you, put a tennis ball in a sock and massage into the tight muscles. It feels good, helps you relax and blocks the nociceptive input into your spinal cord and brain. Don’t put a lot of pressure around the sciatic nerve area. Draw a line between the dimples on each side of your back and the top of your thigh. If you go below that line, you’re in danger of putting pressure directly on the sciatic nerve. When you do that, you’ll know about it fairly quickly and you won’t do it again. Keep the ball higher than that. Use the ball, it will help. Tennis balls, spiky balls, rubberized balls, lacross balls, all sorts of balls of different sizes will do.

Hot and cold

If it’s a recent onset problem or if there’s any trauma involved, go for ice the first few days. Alternate between hot and cold. Two minutes hot, two minutes cold, two minutes hot, two minutes cold, 20 to 25 minutes at a time. Doing it once a day is not going to make a difference. Aim for five or six times a day to really give it a good chance of being effective. Be sensible. If it’s too cold, wrap the ice pack in a tea towel or something, don’t put it straight from the freezer onto your skin, because you can get an ice burn. If it’s too hot wrap it as well, you don’t want to burn your skin either. And ff you’re alternating, you won’t tolerate something quite as cold or quite as hot. That would be just torture.

TENS as home treatment of low back pain

Properly known as transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation, TENS units are low battery size, a bit smaller than a move off form. They got a battery in it. You attach it to your waist and a couple of Electrum leads come out of it. Most of them have two electrical outputs. You stick them onto your back hip, wherever the pain is. TENS causes little tingly sensations that go into your spinal cord. Those sensations block the nociceptive input so that you don’t feel as much pain. They can be immensely effective at blocking pain. It works for some people but not for all, like medication. Try them, they’re only about 30 pounds.

Use TENS like an analgesic of painkiller, because pain relief is all it does. It doesn’t make you heal faster. Use it to get better sleep and to feel less distressed by your pain, but not to do more of the things that would have otherwise caused you pain, because you can actually set back or prevent healing from taking place. Use TENS as home treatment of low back pain / sciatica.

If you’d like a free online assessment of lower back pain / sciatica, click the link.