As many Brits plan to save money by turning their heating off this winter, experts have warned that cold homes could amplify health conditions such as sciatica.
Research has revealed that around 70 percent of adults have said they would turn their heating on less during the colder months.
But there is a real concern for vulnerable people as cold houses can trigger more severe sciatica symptoms.
Whilst it is often thought of as a condition predominately suffered by the elderly, up to 40 percent of UK adults suffer with the condition, with most sufferers aged between 30 to 50 years old.
According to the NHS, sciatica is where the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your feet, is irritated or compressed.
People with the condition often experience pain or a numbing sensation in their bottom, back of the leg, or foot and toes.
Home safety expert at TakingCare Louise Yasities has warned about the complications cold weather can cause for sciatica sufferers.
Louise explained: “A huge number of our elderly customers suffer from sciatica and use our helplines to express concerns about symptom flare ups over the winter months.
“ Symptoms of sciatica are often more prevalent throughout the winter months, as cold weather causes the spine and surrounding muscles to tighten and constrict, causing a great deal of discomfort for those living with the condition.”
On the topic of cold homes, the expert added: “With concerns over heating prices a top worry for elderly people this winter, health conditions that benefit from heat therapy, like sciatica, will likely flare up even more this winter if patients aren’t managing them properly.”
When sciatica flares up during the cold nights, this can make certain sleeping positions uncomfortable.
Sleep posture expert and founder of Levitex pillows James Leindhart said: “When it comes to sleeping with sciatica, the priority is making sure the person is as comfortable as possible.
“Once a person is in active sciatica, it can be difficult to relieve symptoms so our attention must turn to preventing or delaying future flare ups.”
He added: “How the person positions themselves at rest must be considered at this stage, including any unnecessary pressure on the spine and other joints.”
The sleep guru revealed a hack to help people with sciatica snooze better.
“A simple trick like putting a pillow between the person’s knees when they’re sleeping or resting will help reduce pressure on their nerves and help with the pain, however for longer term alleviation, it’s important to consider our day and night-time posture.”
When it comes to managing symptoms during the cost-of-living crisis, Louise explained that you don’t have to break the bank.
“The cost-of-living crisis poses a threat to those living with sciatica, as the use of heating to ease symptoms comes at a higher expense than ever before,” she says.
“However, managing sciatica doesn’t have to be a costly process and turning the heating on for just an hour whilst you’re participating in sedentary activities, such as reading and watching TV, can help to significantly relieve symptoms.
“ Hot water bottles and microwaveable heat packs are also a great cost-effective way to apply heat directly to the source of pain – and cost on average 2p to heat if you’ve boiled the water for a minute using a kettle.”
How to stop sciatica coming back
To reduce the chances of getting sciatica again, the NHS recommends:
staying active – take regular exercise
use a safe technique when lifting heavy objects
make sure you have a good posture when sitting and standing
sit correctly when using a computer
lose weight if you’re overweight
When to visit a GP
It is advised that you visit a GP if the pain:
has not improved after trying home treatments for a few weeks
is getting worse
is stopping you doing your normal activities