The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves in the body. It begins at the lower spine and runs down through the buttocks and down the lower limb to the foot. This nerve provides movement, feeling and strength in the legs.
Around 40% of the world’s population will suffer from sciatica at some point in their lives. It can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower limbs, but is often mistaken for lower back pain or even leg cramps. It starts as a pressure or pinch on the nerve, and then continues as pain down the back of the legs.
Why does it happen, and how long will it last?
The most common cause is a herniated disk: when a disk develops a tear or a crack and bulges into the spinal canal, it can pinch the sciatic nerve. Usually, the symptoms will clear up within a 6-week timeframe, but for some, the pain can last longer.
The pain and discomfort can require some people to stay in bed, and most times will have them reaching for over the counter supplements such as ibuprofen. Put down the pills, and do one of these natural treatment methods instead!
- Hot and Cold
Using a hot or cold compress can help relieve sciatica pain and inflammation. Heat treatments relax the tense muscles that may be compressing the sciatic nerve. Cold treatments reduce the swelling around the nerve and also numbs the pain. When using heat, use moist heat like a steamed towel as it will prove more effective.
- Place a hot or cold pack on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Do this every few hours until you get relief.
This alternative treatment involves inserting hair-fine needles at certain points on the body. Acupuncture boosts the flow of energy and also contributes to proper nerve function. You should feel some relief after the very first treatment, but many would benefit from receiving a few sessions.
Massage therapy can relieve sciatica pain and also help the body heal itself, especially if the problem is caused by a muscle spasm. It also helps release tension, stimulate circulation and increase the range of motion.
- Massage the affected area with St. John’s Wort oil 2 to 3 times daily until relief is found. St. John’s has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve sciatica pain and inflammation.
- Trigger Point massage therapy is another great option. Pain in the lower back, buttocks and side of thighs is often associated with trigger points in the gluteus medius and minimus muscles.
3. Avoid Sitting and Get Moving!
Sitting for many hours can make matters worse when it comes to sciatica pain and bulging disks. Many Sciatica treatment plans call for more movement in general, along with targeted exercises to loosen up the inflamed areas.
In addition to rest, maintaining normal activity is highly beneficial for dealing with sciatica. A day or two after sciatica flare up, you can start a regular exercise program to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles. Strengthening the core muscles helps facilitate quick recovery.
Try exercises like spinal rolling, knees rocking, floor twists, backblock, back extensions, sciatic-mobilizing stretches and certain yoga poses like the cat-cow pose and the pigeon pose to help relieve sciatica and lower back pain.
5. Herbs and Oils
Nature provides us with the best medicine of all. It has provided many beneficial herbs that can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
You can use them in pills, elixirs, tinctures, salves, and even as tea.
Turmeric or curcumin (combine it with black pepper to increase its bioavailability)
White willow bark
St. John’s wort
Milky oat tops
Try to get enough sleep! In doing so you will give your body and nerves enough time to relax, heal, and balance. Extra sleep and rest will help rebuild and strengthen your nerves.