Sciatica is a very common form of pain affecting the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the large nerve that extends from the lower back, down the back of each one of your legs.
- Pain in the rear or leg that gets worse when you sit for a long period of time
- Tingling or burning down the leg
- Numbness, weakness, or problems moving your leg
- Constant pain on one side of your rear
- A shooting pain that makes it hard to stand up
Typically, sciatica only affects one side of your lower body. Quite often, the pain will extend from your lower back through the back of your thigh and down your leg.
Depending on what part of the sciatic nerve is affected, the pain could also extend to your foot and even your toes.
Some people find that their sciatic pain is severe to the point of being debilitating. Others find that their sciatic pain is irritating and infrequent, but could potentially get worse.
If you experience sciatic pain and you have weakness in your lower extremities that gets worse, loss of bowel/bladder control, or numbness in your upper thighs, you should seek immediate medical treatment.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica is caused when the roots of the lumbosacral and lower lumbar spine become irritated. Some other common causes of sciatica include:
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
- Degenerative Disc Disease
Things that could cause your back pain to be worse include being overweight/obese, not getting regular exercise, wearing high heeled shoes, or sleeping on a mattress that isn’t firm enough.
Natural Sciatica Treatments
Following a holistic approach to treat the cause of your sciatica not only relieves the distress that is caused by the pain, it also helps to prevent it from becoming a chronic problem.
Use the following tips to treat your sciatica without having to use potentially harmful medications or surgeries.
Focus on Your Diet
First of all, you should eat foods that are full of magnesium. There are many foods that naturally have healing properties.
Foods that are rich in magnesium are natural muscle relaxants. An inflamed nerve will cause the surrounding muscles to go into spasm.
So, consuming magnesium rich foods help to relieve muscle spasms, which help the symptoms of sciatica.
Next, though caffeine is a great pain reliever overall, you should give it up. In general, it keeps the magnesium from being absorbed by your system.
This means that it’s best to avoid those sodas, dark chocolates, and strong coffees. You can however, consume a chamomile or elderberry tea to help you unwind in the evenings and calm your nerves.
If you include magnesium rich foods in your diet, and exclude the caffeine, you can be sure you’ll never fall short of your daily magnesium requirement of 350 milligrams (women) and 420 milligrams (men).
Make sure to get adequate amounts of vitamins. Sciatica causes the nerves to be inflamed, which in turn, causes damage to the myelin sheath, which is the external covering of the nerve cells.
One result of this damage is having electric-shock like pains, as well as a sensation of “pins and needles.”
The myelin sheath is primarily made up of fats and proteins, and therefore require folic acid and Vitamin B12 to be able to work properly.
You should discuss with your physician which sources of these two vitamins is best for you.
You should rely both on food and herbal remedies for your sciatica. Bromelain- which is found in lemons and pineapples, ginger root, papain- found in papayas, turmeric root, cayenne pepper, and boswelia are all very effective in treating sciatica.
These foods/herbs are great for treating pain and inflammation overall, regardless of what is causing it.
Additionally, liniments made from emu oil, rhus tox, magnesium phosphorus, and arnica as a rub- on will relax your muscles and help to bring on that wonderful sigh of relief.
Get Adequate, Healthy Exercise
Yoga is a great way to correct the root cause of sciatica. You may not know this, but it is said that pain is the outward display of the diseased internal body.
Yoga changes the attitude of the mind, which in turn, changes the attitude of the body- correcting the imbalance between the two and reaching a greater relief of pain due to a better sync between the mind and body.
Yoga is very similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, which retrains the mind to curb the side effects that are causing pain to the physical body.
The “corpse pose” or “shavasana” is very helpful in reducing the muscle tension in the body. It works to naturally relax the muscles and also rejuvenates the mind.
Use breathing exercises- breathe in and then out in equal counts. You can also breathe in through one nostril and then breathe out through the other. This can be used in conjunction with yoga.
Practice the “flossing” exercise- which serves to release the trapped sciatic nerve in order to facilitate optimum muscle functioning in the lower back.
This helps to break away any scar tissue that has formed, and allows the nerve to freely glide over the muscles.
This is called “flossing” because it causes the junk around the nerve to be released- sort of like flossing your teeth breaks away the junk that is there.
The “flossing” exercise is performed by gradually straightening your affected leg from the knee towards the wall and allowing tension to build up until you can’t stand it anymore.
This works best for relieving peripheral nerve entrapments. Studies have shown that this is effective in relieving chronic and sub-acute lower back pain.
If none of the above natural treatments work to treat your sciatica pain, you will need to seek help from your physician.
He/she may prescribe pain medications or physical therapy. If that doesn’t work, he/she could possibly want to do surgery.
However, keep in mind that complications can arise from surgery that are far worse than the pain you’re currently experiencing.
Do your research and weigh the pros and cons before agreeing to any sort or medical treatment.