How to Ease the Pain of Driving With Sciatica

Updated on July 12, 2018
RaintreeAnnie profile image

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 with sciatica can be both painful and demanding. Finding ways to cope with the pain can be just as burdensome. After struggling to find what helped me while driving with sciatic pain, I wanted to share my findings for those who are still battling the condition.

I have lived with back pain and sciatica, so I am speaking from personal experience. In this article, I will cover why the type of car you drive can make a difference, various back and lumbar supports, and a sciatica and back pain exercise system I have used with great success. Hopefully, the following suggestions and methods will help you find comfort while driving.

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 a lumbar support: A good lumbar support can make a huge difference in your level of comfort.
  5. Use a heat 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 driving responsibilities: 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 your driving position: As explained in the video below, you should sit with your knees higher than your hips and keep your head erect.
  8. Take a warm 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. Back massages: 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

Hermell Products Softeze Memory Foam Lumbar Cushion with Grey Polycotton Cover
Hermell Products Softeze Memory Foam Lumbar Cushion with Grey Polycotton Cover

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

HoMedics MW-BHC2 TheraP Hot/Cold Therapy Back Wrap with the Power of Magnets, Large/X-Large
HoMedics MW-BHC2 TheraP Hot/Cold Therapy Back Wrap with the Power of Magnets, Large/X-Large

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.

How do you Find Driving With Sciatic and/or Back Pain?

How Do You Find Driving With Sciatic and/or Back Pain?

See results

© 2008 RaintreeAnnie

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    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      4 years ago from UK

      @mumsgather I am sorry to hear you suffered with sciatica for several years. Yes there are things that can help. Often it is finding the right combination for you to help. Thank you for your visit I appreciate it.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      4 years ago from UK

      @SandyMertens Thank you Sandy. I am so much better now ! Glad you thought they were good tips. I appreciate your visit Thankyou.

    • profile image

      mumsgather 

      4 years ago

      I used to have very bad back pain that stretches all the way till just above the heels of my feet. Thankfully it went away after a few years. I didn't know there were so many products for sciatica. Thanks for sharing.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Good car tips for person with sciatica. Sorry that you are a sufferer.

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      4 years ago from France

      My wife used to suffer with sciatica. But the problem was down her left side so we changed her car to an automatic. It greatly relieved the pain and she could drive just using her right leg which helped enormously. She is actually much better now and can even drive manual cars again.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      4 years ago from Colorado

      These tips and resources will be a big help to those who suffer while driving. Thankfully, most of my pain issues (while driving) are gone. I feel for those who cannot enjoy driving due to pain.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      5 years ago from UK

      @WriterJanis2: Thank you :)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 

      5 years ago

      I think this can help a lot of people.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      5 years ago from UK

      @sierradawn lm: Thank you, I am happy you have found my articles on back and sciatic pain useful. Take good care of your back.

    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 

      5 years ago

      I can not drive at all anymore. But maybe that is more a state of mind now, than an actual fact. I have not driven in 2 years. I am going to try all of your suggestions here. It would be so good to be able to drive again! Thank you for all of the articals you have done on back pain!

    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 

      5 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      My back problems are not critical, but after a really long drive I get problems. These are very helpful tips, thanks.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      6 years ago from UK

      @anonymous: Hi Helen, Thank you for your visit and query. I would suggest that you consult with your doctor about whether or not you should drive as he/she will have your full medical history and can best advise you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      yes helpful but i wish to know if you can drive with a disc bulge l4

    • Jerzimom profile image

      Cheryl Fay Mikesell 

      6 years ago from Ladysmith, WI

      Good helpful tips.I didn't think about the lower back lumbar support. Good idea..I've been dealing with sciatica recently and hasn't been fun at all! Long drives are not good. Properly stretching seems to help. Good luck with your recovery.

    • profile image

      shaun1981 

      6 years ago

      Excellent lens, very informative. I will be directing visitors to my site who suffer from sciatica to this lens. Driving Lessons HQ

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 

      6 years ago

      You've got some good products here for people suffering from sciatica. I'm sure this article will help a lot of people. Blessed.

    • Dragon 40 profile image

      Ken McVay 

      6 years ago from Nanaimo, British Columbia

      Interesting lens - thanks. Blessed.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      6 years ago from Scotland

      for longer journeys the TENS machine is a mustin my travel kit! I also found a lumbar support fantastic purchase, such a simple thing but wont leave without it now! Taking lots of planned breaks (whether you think you need one or not also helps as then you dont let the pain start before you stop!)

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      6 years ago from Scotland

      for longer journeys the TENS machine is a mustin my travel kit! I also found a lumbar support fantastic purchase, such a simple thing but wont leave without it now! Taking lots of planned breaks (whether you think you need one or not also helps as then you dont let the pain start before you stop!)

    • profile image

      lftypjk900 

      6 years ago

      wow what great information on sciatia. Great lens!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      Just riding in a car, especially for long times, is painful when I have a sciatica flare-up. I'm OK at the moment, but will keep these tips in mind in case it comes back.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      6 years ago

      Thank-you for sharing these valuable tips for driving with Sciatic pain.

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 

      6 years ago from California

      I definitely don't do long road trips as much as I used to. (In fact a road trip to SF and back may have been the straw that broke this camel's back.) Cruise control helps.

      Unfortunately, the one thing i don't like about the Prius is that the brake pedal and accelerator are at different heights. Having to lift the foot to get to the brake instead of just resting my heel on the bed of the car and rotating my foot left or right has been a major source of sciatica pain buildup for me. Working at home helps, as does a really, really good office chair (I used $800 earlier this year to invest in an aeron chair.)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Another really useful Lens, I'm going to add this to the Health Lens I mentioned as well, thank you for sharing!

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      6 years ago from UK

      @religions7: Thank you for your blessing I appreciate that :)

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      6 years ago from UK

      @anonymous: Thank you Tipi for your thoughtful comment. I agree support is very very important and makes a big difference in recovery. Sometimes that comes form family and friends , sometimes from back forums etc. I am so glad you r sister is in recovery and doing well :) Gentle Hugs.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      6 years ago from UK

      @ChrisDay LM: Thank you Chris, yes it can be simple things or sometimes more complex. People need to never give up looking for their solution

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      6 years ago from UK

      @anonymous: Glad you found things to help you :)

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      6 years ago from UK

      @MargoPArrowsmith: Thank you Margo:)

      I am glad you found your solution to sciatic pain.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      6 years ago from UK

      @nightbear lm: Thank you for the blessing nightbear I appreciate that :)

      Yes sometimes we overlook the simple things, its about taking more care of ourselves.

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      7 years ago

      Really great suggestions. Something as simple as removing your wallet from the back pocket is so true, Whatever it takes to survive we must all do. Great job Jasmine Ann. Blessed!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 

      7 years ago

      I am lensrolling this to my lens on Rolfing, 12 years ago Rolfing took away my debilitating sciatica. I know how painful it is.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      The Car Cush and Tush Cush are a great help those who suffer from back pain. The Tush-Cush orthopedic seat cushion is scientifically designed to relieve and prevent back pain, numb buttocks and other discomforts associated with sitting. The unique cutout section of the cushion suspends the tailbone providing comfort and relief to areas sensitive to sitting. The wedge shape tilts the pelvis forward to restore the spine's natural lumbar curve.

      It's great for home, office, or travel by car or plane!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      7 years ago

      A very distressing problem which, for some sufferers, may have a relatively simple solution.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Only someone who has actually experienced this type of pain can teach about how to deal with it and you have done that very well. My sister had a herniated disc just this last summer and was healed without surgery. She did go to the chiropractor a lot and it was tough going but the wonderful support of her husband was a big part of her recovery. She is now grateful for the little things, like being able to dress herself. At one point she was using a walker or cane just to get around the house. Now she's dancing and trudging through snowy trails in the woods. One day she emailed me after a hike and said her face was raw from smiling! Saying a prayer...and many positive thoughts in your direction.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 

      7 years ago

      OMG, I am thinking back to May 1997 when I had my back surgery and forever thankful that I did not have a stick car as I surely would NOT have been able to shift gears to drive. This is NO picnic when it happens to YOU. My compassion ...

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR

      RaintreeAnnie 

      7 years ago from UK

      Thank you so much for your comments,I do appreciate you taking the time to do that :)

      Gentle hugs:)

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 

      9 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • profile image

      chloecavanaugh 

      10 years ago

      Truly insightful. A must read for those who suffer. Very detailed, and informative!

      *****

      ~Chloe

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      I have a TENS unit...the blue wave and it is a life saver! I have a herniated disk and it flared up last week....the TENS is the only thing that helped me get out of the bed I was hostage in. I've been wearing it almost continuously since then. You can power it on or off as needed. I am looking for a place to purchase replacement pads from. Any ideas?

    • daoine lm profile image

      daoine lm 

      10 years ago

      A lumber cushion for supporting the back can really make a huge difference to how long you can be in a driving position without discomfort. I take mine everywhere. This is a really great lens :)

    • profile image

      browndog21 

      10 years ago

      As a back pain sufferer I found this lens very helpful. Contemplating a TENS unit. I will bookmark this page!

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