Natural Remedies for Sciatica Pain
What Is Sciatica?
The hallmark of sciatica is the throbbing sciatic nerve pain you experience in your lower back and/or legs. The sciatic pain can be constant or come and go. You’re likely to get sciatica pain when the spinal cord gets pinched or injured.
The sciatic nerves themselves are two nerves that arise in the lower back. One runs the entire length of each leg, which explains why you can experience sciatic nerve pain all the way down the length of a leg. The sciatic nerves are actually the longest nerves in the body.
The risk factors for sciatica include the following:
- Taller than average
- Sitting too much
- Work that subjects the worker to a lot of shaking or vibration
A sciatica attack is often excruciatingly painful, and accordingly people are often quick to seek the most drastic forms of sciatic pain treatment to get rid of their distress. Such measures include powerful (and sometimes addictive) sciatic pain medicine and surgery. But it’s worth knowing that there are less extreme forms of therapy that can provide sciatic pain relief, improve spinal health in general, and make future injury less likely. These medication-free holistic measures provide natural muscle relaxation and often produce an increased range of motion, lower stress, boost the immune system, and make re-injury or a new injury less likely.
Sciatica Remedy #1: Chiropractic Spinal Adjustment
There are different kinds of injury to the spinal column including herniated or ruptured discs and prolapse disc bulges. This damage can cause disc and/or spinal material to spill out beyond the vertebrae that should protect it. Similarly, tissue can separate from a disc completely, or disc material can be forced into the spinal canal. All these effects can produce sciatica and severe sciatic nerve pain.
A thorough medical examination possibly including X-rays and an MRI can determine exactly what kind of injury the patient has sustained. Knowing that, a chiropractor can work to realign discs to eliminate or prevent protrusions into the spinal canal.
Sciatic Remedy #2: Acupuncture and Massage Therapy
Although the mechanism by which acupuncture works is not fully understood by Western medicine, it sometimes works well to help sciatica and sciatic nerve pain. Some patients may worry that the needles employed in acupuncture will prove painful in themselves, but this is typically not the case.
Various types of massage therapy including deep tissue manipulation (AKA Rolfing) can also provide sciatica pain relief. They improve blood circulation and muscle tone, reduce inflammation, and release the endorphins that alleviate pain and improve a person’s mood.
Sciatica Remedy #3: Stay Active
Sitting for too long strains your back and leaves you vulnerable to sciatica. So get up and move around.
Regular exercise of any kind is good for you. But certain exercises and practices are especially beneficial for sciatica sufferers, so beneficial, in fact, that physical therapists treating patients with sciatic nerve pain often assign them. These may include the following:
- Light isometric exercises to relieve pain and improve strength in the patient’s spine and legs.
- Taking frequent breaks from standing or sitting.
- Specific stretches.
As a side benefits, these practices have a good chance of making you more aware of your body. If sciatic pain starts coming back, you’ll realize it sooner, know why, and know what you should do to avert the imminent attack.
Just remember not to overtax yourself lest you do more harm than good. Start any exercise program at a reasonable level and work up.
Sciatica Remedy #4: Stretching and Yoga
We’ve already alluded to stretching, and even when not specifically assigned by a physical therapist, stretching and yoga can work against sciatica pain. Slow, measured movement that lengthens the spine, stretches that gently curve the spine backward, and lying on the stomach can all be sources of sciatica pain relief.
Yoga can be especially effective for combatting sciatic nerve pain. It’s gentle, low-impact, and does a particularly good job of strengthening the core and spine while reducing inflammation and stiffness.
Sciatica Remedy #5: Heating pads
Some sufferers find that heating pads are useful for reducing sciatica pain. You can get them from many sources including pharmacies and online. For best results, follow these steps:
- Set the heating paid to low or minimum.
- Put the heating pad on your lower back and leave it there for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Allow at least two to three hours between uses.
Heating pads aren’t for everyone. For some people, cold therapy works better. If that’s you, use an icepack and otherwise follow the guidelines above.
Sciatica Remedy #6: Fight Inflammation
Inflammation makes sciatica pain worse and makes it more difficult for injuries to heal. You can fight inflammation by adopting these healthy habits:
- Don’t smoke.
- Make sure your diet includes plenty of the nutrients that promote healing.
- Get moderate regular exercise.
- Get several hours of quality sleep every night.
Sciatica Remedy #7: Stem Cell Therapy
For those for whom the remedies listed above prove insufficient by themselves, there’s stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy is regenerative medicine that directly addresses the damage responsible for sciatica. It can relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and grow new healthy tissue.
As a bonus, it’s minimally invasive, and recovery time and the time spent in rehabilitation can be remarkably short.