Don't Let Sciatica Keep You Off the Road
For people who have sciatica—searing or stabbing pain radiating from the back or buttocks into the leg—driving a car can be especially uncomfortable and painful. If driving makes your sciatica act up, these tips might help make your drive more bearable:
- Empty your pockets. Make sure to remove your wallet, cellphone, or anything else from your back pants pockets so they don't irritate your lower back.
- Find a comfortable position. Keep both hands on the steering wheel at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions to help distribute weight in the upper body evenly. Adjust your seat so you can hold the wheel without stretching to reach.
- Position your feet. Keep your left foot on the rubber pad to the left of the brake pedal, which helps keep both feet and legs in the same position, so your pelvis is straight. When safe and appropriate, use cruise control. This way both feet can rest comfortably on the floor and your knees are at a right angle, which relieves pressure on your lower back.
- Use heat or cold. Both ice packs and heating pads can ease lower back pain and sciatica. Pack an ice pack in a cooler and tuck it behind your back during stretches of driving. If your car has heated seats, you can turn them on to ease muscle pain.
- Take frequent breaks. If you're driving a long distance, stop and get out to stretch every couple of hours.