Sciatica is a condition with symptoms along the course of the sciatic nerve, which forms in the lower spinal cord and courses down the posterior (back) of the leg. The symptoms include pain or paresthesias (numbness, tingling, or pins and needles). Sciatica has different causes and treatments. This article will emphasize holistic and at-home treatments.
Causes of sciatica
Any condition that structurally impinges on the sciatic nerve can cause sciatica. The impingement can occur in the spine, near the nerve root, as caused by degenerative disc disease (like a herniated disc) or spinal stenosis (spinal canal narrowing). In addition, there can be compression as the sciatic nerve moves through the piriformis muscle when it is tight or in spasm.
Obesity is one of the most common correctible causes of sciatica.
Recognizing symptoms of sciatica
Sometimes, sciatica can be confused with low back muscular pain. Sciatica can cause lower back pain, but it is usually associated with numbness, tingling, and weakness in the leg and foot. In most cases of low back muscular pain, the pain is focused on the lumbar region and does not radiate to the lower extremities.
Managing sciatic nerve pain
Most cases of sciatic nerve pain resolve independently after a few weeks. Still, some require conservative treatment consisting of prescription medications, physical therapy, injections, and, in rare cases, surgery.
But maybe you're against pharmaceuticals and other traditional medical treatments. Possibly, you'd prefer some natural remedy for sciatica. Well, we've got you covered with the holistic methods discussed below.
Holistic approaches to achieve sciatica pain relief
Some of the methods to relieve sciatica pain include the following.
The theories of acupuncture are based on traditional Chinese medicine involving chi, the vital energy force that moves in pathways called meridians.
Using needles to stimulate acupuncture points along the body's meridians releases chi to help it flow better, decreasing pain.
Acupressure is a similar technique to acupuncture. The main difference is that acupressure uses pressure instead of needles.
3. Sciatica stretches
Relieving your sciatica pain may be as simple as performing some stretches for sciatica.
4. Chiropractic care for sciatica
People have stated chiropractic care has been very helpful for their sciatica symptoms. In addition, many chiropractors claim that chiropractic care will cure your sciatica symptoms.
However, the literature on chiropractic care's success in relieving sciatica is lacking. Still, a study published in the 2006 issue of the Spine Journal found that chiropractic spinal manipulation successfully reduced pain in people with back pain, disc disease, and sciatica.
If you want non-pharmacological pain relief, why not try chiropractic care? There have been minimally reported side effects and many people have reported its effective relief.
5. Massage therapy
A manual (hands-on) massage to the lower back, buttocks, hips, and legs can sometimes relieve sciatica pain, especially if caused by a tight piriformis muscle.
For those who cannot afford a professional massage, devices, like massage guns, can be very effective.
Exercise is very important to help with many medical conditions, especially muscular or nerve pain. It is best to perform the sciatica stretches after some form of cardiovascular exercise since that will allow more blood flow into the muscles for a better stretch.
In addition, since obesity is a cause of sciatica, maintaining a healthy weight through exercise can be very important.
Any type of exercise is fine, but we recommend doing something you enjoy since you are more likely to stick to the exercise program. If the weather is nice, try to exercise outdoors.
7. Lifestyle adjustments
Eating a healthy diet will help keep weight down. It will also give you more energy and make it more likely for you to exercise. Getting more quality sleep will improve your overall well-being.
Choosing the correct sleeping position can be very important if you have back pain or sciatica.
Are there natural supplements for sciatica relief?
No human studies clearly show how vitamins or nutrition can lead to immediate relief of sciatica pain. However, it has been shown that proper levels of proteins, nutrients, and vitamins are needed for nerve, muscle, and bone functioning.
The natural anti-inflammatory turmeric has gained popularity since people have reported much success.
Another non-pharmaceutical supplement that has patients reporting success in relieving symptoms of sciatica is cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical found in hemp types of marijuana plants. Theoretically, CBD has the pain relief properties of cannabis (marijuana) without causing the psychedelic high.
Home remedies and self-care tips
Besides the treatments mentioned above, there are also remedies that you can try at home to relieve the symptoms of sciatica.
- Heat. Use a moist heat pack and apply it to your buttocks, hips, and legs. If you don’t have a heat pack, you can stand in the hot shower for an extra 5 minutes with the water stream on those areas. A jacuzzi or whirlpool is an excellent way to apply moist heat. It’s recommended to use heat before the stretching exercises mentioned above.
- Ice. Ice can be more helpful than heat in people with inflammation of the piriformis muscle or sciatic nerve. If you plan on using ice, we recommend using a reusable cold pack with soft-touch fabric to avoid burning the skin. Otherwise, use a towel or cloth with the cold pack. A bag of frozen peas can work for the first few times if no reusable pack is available.
- Topicals. Numerous topicals are available for purchase, including CBD (mentioned above), menthol, capsaicin (made from red hot chili peppers), and others.
- Meditations. It can help relax all the muscles and nerves throughout the body.
Sciatica is a condition resulting in pain, numbness, or tingling in the posterior leg. Traditional medical treatments involve medications, physical therapy, and injections; however, sciatica can also be treated with holistic and home remedies.
Can I manage sciatica without medications?
Yes, sciatica can be managed without medications. Methods, like acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, stretching, massage, and exercise, can cure the symptoms.
How long does it take to experience relief with natural remedies for sciatica?
Some experience immediate relief, while others can take longer. For some people, natural remedies will not relieve the symptoms, and professional medical treatment will be required.
Are there some foods to limit when having sciatica?
If having sciatica pain, it's a good idea to avoid fatty, greasy, or high-carbohydrate foods, such as fast food or processed snacks. These foods are known to increase inflammation and can exacerbate sciatic pain. In addition, if these foods cause gastrointestinal upset and lead to numerous bathroom trips, it could add to back pain and sciatica.
Sciatica is pain, numbness, and tingling along the course of the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of the leg.
Sciatica is caused by conditions that impinge on the sciatic nerve, including a tight piriformis muscle, a herniated disc, or spinal stenosis (canal narrowing).
Holistic approaches for sciatica pain relief include acupuncture, stretching, chiropractic care, massage, exercise, and lifestyle adjustments.
Natural supplements, like CBD, can help with sciatica.
Home remedies and self-care tips include heat, ice, topical creams and lotions, and meditation.
- National Library of Medicine. Sciatica.
- Natinal Library of Medicine. Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations.