How to Ease the Pain of Driving With Sciatica

Updated on July 12, 2018
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I write on varied subjects and health issues (such as back and sciatic pain) from my own experiences with these conditions.

Tips for driving with sciatica.
Tips for driving with sciatica.|Source

Driving a Car With Sciatica

Driving is a necessary part of my life. I drive to get to work, to go shopping, to receive treatments, and to visit family and friends despite my sciatica pain. My combined responsibilities desperately required that I find ways of receiving relief.

I always found myself in excruciating pain by the time I arrived at my physical therapist appointment 20 minutes from my house. Driving longer distances in my condition was unimaginable.

Even when my sciatica started to ease, driving was always the one thing that was guaranteed to make it flare up again. I could feel the pain surfacing and, when I found myself in traffic, there was nothing I could do. Painkillers totally spaced me out, so driving while medicated was obviously NOT an option. I was forced to seek out alternative forms of relief.

Tips for Relief From Sciatica Pain

  1. Take a break:Try to drive for short periods at a time. Get out of the car often for breaks and walk around. If you stop at a cafe or diner, do not stay in your car while you eat or drink.
  2. Stretch:It is essential that you do your back care stretches after you have been sitting while driving. Take a few minutes to really stretch it all out.
  3. Empty your back pockets:If you have a wallet in your back pocket and sit, it will immediately throw your sacrum and pelvis off balance and it is only a matter of time before backache sets in.
  4. Use alumbar support:A good lumbar support can make a huge difference in your level of comfort.
  5. Use aheat pad:Sitting in one position and being unable to move much while you are driving can cause muscle fatigue to set in. I find that heating pads really help with circulation and keep the muscles warm.
  6. Share drivingresponsibilities:Try splitting up driving times on longer trips. Be sure to use your lumbar support and heat pads. As a passenger, you will have more freedom to move and wriggle about if need be.
  7. Watch yourdriving position:As explained in the video below, you should sit with your knees higher than your hips and keep your head erect.
  8. Take awarm bath or shower:You will be fatigued if you are driving, so do take the opportunity to ease out those aches and bathe or shower (whatever suits you best).
  9. Backmassages:Back massages are extremely satisfying after long drives. Visit a massage therapist if you are able to do so. You will need to check to be sure that they are certified and fully qualified to work on back conditions. If you cannot visit a certified massage therapist, then you can ask a friend to give you a gentle massage. Simple strokes can be learned easily, but they should not attempt any deep massage.

Memory Foam Back Support Cushion

Memory foam molds and supports your back. This one has a grey, washable cover. I use a memory foam cushion everywhere—especially in my car! Even now that I do not often get back or sciatic pain, I still use one as it makes any type of seating more comfortable! In my experience, I have struggled to be comfortable in most cars because most car seats are not made for human backs. Any car seat suddenly becomes more comfortable for both drivers and passengers with the memory foam cushion.

Choosing the Right Car for People With Back Pain

Choosing the right vehicle for your back is very important. Follow these guidelines to help with your search.

  • Look for a car you can get in and out of easily without aggravating your back pain or sciatica symptoms too much.
  • A tilted steering wheel may make it easier for you to get in and out of your car with back issues.
  • Power steering is wonderful and will help you a lot if you have upper or lower back pain and sciatica.
  • Check out the seat controls and test just how adjustable they really are.
  • Examine if the seats have heat controls. If they do, this can be great to ease aching back muscles. If not, heat pads do as good a job.
  • Inspect the boot or trunk. Test how easy it is for you to open and close it and lift items in and out of it. Shallow and flat is best.
  • Check your reach to all the controls. You should not be straining, stretching or twisting to reach them.
  • It is essential you take a thorough test drive to ensure the vehicle meets all of your needs. Get in and out of the car several times, and drive it on different road types if possible. Check how good the suspension is.

Risks of Driving

Do not drive if you have been advised against it by your doctor and/or are taking meds which adversely affect your abilities.

Correct Posture While Driving

The "Lose the Back Pain" System

If you are seeking relief from sciatica, I suggest you look into the "Lose the Back Pain" system. Designed by Steve Hefferon and Jesse Cannone of The Healthy Back Institute, it is the main system that helped me get rid of my severe back and sciatic pain.

"Lose the Back Pain" is a system whereby you do self-assessments to determine your imbalances and follow specific corrective exercises to fix those imbalances. You also have access to a lot of useful educational information to help you help yourself, not to mention wonderful client support whenever you need it. My support from Steve Hefferon was amazing. He helped me with all my questions and worked with me so that I got the best out of the system.

It might sound dramatic (and it was), but "Lose the Back Pain" system helped me to get relief from sciatica pain and helped me get my life back.

Additional Recommendations for Sciatica Relief

  • Portable Lumbar Support Cushion:Portable lumbar support aids in aligning your spine to the correct position that so many cars do not allow for with their standard seats. Being portable means you can use it in any car whether you are the driver or a passenger or in any other chair while sitting.
  • Coccyx Cushion:A coccyx cushion eases pressure on the coccyx and the spine. If you have an injury, then this part of your body may be affected and extremely painful. It is surprising how much of the day we spend sitting, so if you are driving, you need to be able to concentrate on the road and not on pain. It can be worth trying one of these cushions out to see if it helps you.
  • Lumbar Rolls:Lumbar rolls are used to help maintain a natural curve in the lumbar spine. Many of our lifestyles and sitting habits are not conducive to good posture and good spinal alignment. If you feel or know that you do not have a good curve in the spine, this lumbar roll may help you to maintain proper posture.

Hot/Cold Therapy Back Wrap With the Power of Magnets

This wrap is most useful if you feel you require heat and cold therapy and want a wrap you can use around your back. Ice is used initially for the first day or so before switching to heat. This can be very helpful in many cases. I found these wraps to be comfortable. They are especially useful when I need cold on my back; ice cubes in a bag or frozen peas always melt and get messy!

When to See a Professional

I am a recovering back pain sufferer and not a medical expert. This article contains personal opinions that are not intended as medical advice. The contents are not intended to diagnose, treat or give a medical opinion.

The information provided here is no substitute for medical diagnosis and guidance. Consult a physician in all matters relating to health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

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