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How to Choose the Best Pillow for Sciatica

leg pillow for sciatica
Pain can hinder us from getting a good night's sleep; that's why finding the right pillow can make it easier to achieve a better rest while living with sciatica.

Table of Contents

Sciatica can be a sign of an underlying physical condition in which the sciatic nerve is irritated and compressed. While there are a lot of ways to get relief for the pain, a leg pillow is an efficient product you can use to achieve a little comfort. To help you decide whether you need a leg pillow for sciatica, we have listed essential factors for you to consider when buying.

But before we proceed, first, you must know the causes and symptoms of sciatica:

What is Sciatica?

leg pillow for sciatica

Sciatica is a pain linked with the sciatic nerve coming from the lower back, running down to the back of the legs. It typically starts with a herniated disc located in your lumbar or lower spine. If you’ve had an injury, one of your discs tends to worn out, and the soft center pushes out from the outer ring. If the disc herniates, it adds pressure on the nerves surrounding it, affecting the sciatic nerves, which then causes mild to severe pain.

What Are the Root Causes of Sciatica?

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is commonly caused by sciatica. It narrows the spinal bone passage, where the spinal cord and nerves are located. Spinal stenosis occurs mainly in the lower back where the sciatic nerves are present. If the spinal bone passage narrows, the spinal nerve roots start to compress, producing tingling sensation, weakness, and numbness associated with sciatica.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc occurs when the soft disc is pushed through the crack located in the exterior casing, which irritates the nerves that cause sciatic pain.

Bone Spurs

Bone spur or overgrowth of the bone is typically caused by sciatica and can cause pain as it irritates the sciatic nerves in its surrounding area. Bone spurs originate from the spine’s normal wear and tear caused by aging or from injuries.

Degenerative disc disease

As we age, the spine loses its flexibility, and the discs between our vertebrae deplete its cushioning. The more stress and motion the areas of the spine are experiencing, the more it is susceptible to degenerative disc disease. Degeneration often occurs in the lumbar, causing sciatic nerve irritation. Degenerative disc disease can be treated with lower back exercises, anti-inflammatory medications, and following proper posture and ergonomics.

What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

People with sciatica experience symptoms such as numbness, radiating pain, or tingling from the lower back down to the back of the leg. The pain ranges from a dull to sharp and intense pain, which often can be consistent or occasional. Sitting for extended periods may aggravate the symptoms.

What To Consider When Choosing A Leg Pillow for Sciatica?

TYPE

Wedge Cushions

Wedge cushions aim to improve the inward curvature of the lower back, at the same time promoting proper posture. This type of pillow reduces the strain coming from the joints and ligaments and helps tilt the pelvis forward.

Inflatable Cushions

Inflatable cushions are best for those people who travel a lot as it can be brought anywhere. Since it has a versatile design, you can bring them to work, inside your car, and at your home. This type of cushion is inflatable, so whenever you don’t use it, you can deflate it after. Its portability sets itself apart from other cushions while offering exceptional comfort.

Heated Cushions

Heated cushions are the latest cushion discovery which uses heating technology such as infrared, electricity, and moist heat to generate heat safely. This type of cushion functions by widening the blood vessels to help increase blood flow. Proper blood flow promotes the right amount of nutrients and oxygen circulating, which helps accelerates tissue recovery.

FUNCTIONALITY

Pressure relief

Leg pillows specifically designed to relieve pressure are suitable for those people suffering back and sciatica pain. They offer extra support to the bony areas of the body, at the same time, help minimize stress in delicate areas while sitting.

Portability

Portability is one of the best functions people with sciatica look for in leg pillows, just like handy cushions. These cushions are convenient and lightweight, making it easy to bring and sit anywhere.

Posture alignment

Choosing the right leg pillow for sciatica is essential as it promotes good posture and spinal alignment to help maintain the spine’s normal curvature. 

Sciatica is frequently triggered by incorrect sitting posture, so finding an appropriate cushion can help you achieve comfort and relief.

INTERIOR MATERIAL

Memory foam

The materials from the memory foam have foam bubbles that create an air matrix allowing the air to circulate inside the pillow. They’re also known to be visco-elastic, which respond to density and body heat.

Memory foam technology is first discovered by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of their research on how to increase pillow safety.

Air

Leg pillows filled with air (inflatable cushions) are lightweight and portable, which makes it perfect for traveling. This type of cushion is convenient and can be easily personalized since you can control the amount of air you put in.

High-density foam

High-density foam is popular as it reduces strain on various pressure points of the body while distributing body weight evenly. It retains its original shape, so you don’t need to worry if you’ve been using it regularly. If you’re suffering from tailbone pain, this type of pillow could be your best option as it minimizes the pressure on the area.

Liquid gel

Liquid gel leg pillows are made with a fluid material purposely for added cushioning. It conforms to the body’s natural shape while providing a more therapeutic comfort.

Silicone gel

Silicone gels are made with a polymer network that keeps the pillows flexible and durable. This type of material contains pain-relieving substances that help alleviate pressure.

EXTERIOR MATERIAL

Polyester

Polyesters are water-resistant, making it the best material for leg pillows as it adds extra support and can withstand frequent wear and tear, or food and liquid spills.

Nylon

Leg pillows with nylon covers are also water-resistant, lightweight, and durable. Nylons don’t accumulate dirt quickly and aren’t prone to sweat build-up.

Suede

Leg pillows with suede material are a common feature in most air-filled and inflatable cushions. Its velvety texture adds grip to the pillow, keeping it secure on your legs. Its durability is enough to protect the inner material from any tears while keeping the cushion soft.

SIZE

One essential factor to consider when purchasing leg pillow for sciatica is its size. You want to make it fit and suitable for your height and weight. To ensure you’re getting the exact size, make sure the leg pillow you’re getting is the ideal dimension for your body.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Lumbar Back Support

You might want to add lumbar back support to your office chair for added support and ergonomics. This cushion can provide you more comfort while sitting at your desk at the same time, promotes good posture.

Non-Slip Base or Secure Straps

Opt for a non-slip base and built-in secure straps to keep your leg pillow in place without worrying it may slide off.

Removable and Washable Cover

Cushions tend to get dirty after a couple of use, so you have to make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned. Leg pillows with removable and washable cover make it easier for you to get it cleaned and wash off any dirt and grime.

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