Sciatica is the pain caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve which is severe and debilitating. The pain starts from the lower back and continues down the back of the leg. Moreover, it is appropriated with tingling and burning sensation in the leg, numbness and weakness down the affected leg and toes. The shooting pain causes difficulty sitting down or standing up.
This condition is most commonly caused by slipped or herniated disc, but can also be caused by degenerative disc disease, spinal injury or infection, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, pregnancy, and isthmic spondylolisthesis.
The conventional treatments provide temporarily assistance, while the steroid injections can lead to severe side effects. There are natural therapies which will help you with the issue.
- Massage – it can relieve the pain and it will help the body heal itself, particularly if the cause is a muscle spasm. With massage you can help in stimulation circulation, release tension, and raise the range of motion. You can use St. John’s wort oil for massage as it provides anti-inflammatory properties. Do this 2-3 times a day until you notice a relief. You can also prepare a mixture of sesame oil (1 cup) and nutmeg powder (3 tbsp.), heat it and let I cool until it is comfortably warm before you start the massage. Repeat the treatment couple of times daily for a period of few weeks. You can trigger-point massage once a day as the pain in the lower back, thighs and buttocks is connected to the trigger points in the gluteus minimus and medius muscles.
- Hot or cold compress – the cold compress will numb the pain and lower swelling around the nerve, while the hot one will relax tense muscles the presses the sciatic nerve. You can also make a combination of hot and cold treatments, starting with the hot and then ending with the cold treatment. Take a steamed towel (moist heat) for the hot compress and put a cold or hot pack on the affected area, letting it stay for 15-20 minutes. Repeat it every couple of hours until you notice a relief. People who have circulatory issues should not use cold compress.
- Turmeric – it can be used as a natural treatment for sciatica due to the anti-inflammatory effects. Its active compound named curcumin helps in lowering the inflammation and nerve pain. Boil a cup of milk and add 1 tsp of turmeric, a small cinnamon stick, and honey. Consume it1-2 times per day until you notice improvements. You may also take supplements (250-300 mg 3 times per day for a period of couple of weeks, but consult your doctor before taking them. People who suffer from gallstones and those who take diabetes meds as well as blood thinners should not use turmeric.
- Capsaicin cream – this is an active compound of cayenne pepper and it is a natural reliever of the pain, helping deplete the substance P levels (a neurotransmitter which transports pain signals). Apply the ointment or cream which contains 0.025%-0.075% capsaicin on the affected spot 4 times a day in a period of 1 week. In case you have broken skin do not apply capsaicin cream as it can cause burning sensation.
- Exercises – this is very important for the treatment of sciatica. Start exercising regularly in order to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles a day or two after the flare-up of sciatica. A great exercise is Knee to Chest Stretch which will lower nerve irritation and improve the flexibility of your lower back. Lie down on the back with the legs stretch at hip-width. Relax the upper body and bend the knee upwards while you breathe in. pull your thighs through the chest with your hands clasped behind as far as it is comfortable for you. Your legs need to stay flat on the ground. Stay like that for 20 seconds while you breathe deeply. Lower the legs carefully after this. Repeat the same procedure with the other leg. Once you repeat this 3-5 times do the exercise with both of the legs for 3-5 minutes. The pigeon and cat-cow yoga poses will also help you with this issue. You may want to try spinal decompression exercises. Consult your doctor for making the appropriate exercise program for you.
- White willow bark – it will provide long-lasting relief as it possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the olic glycosides with salicin. You can take 120 mg of white willow supplements or 240 mg of salicin daily for a period of 2-3 weeks, but consult your doctor first.
- Valerian root – it is very effective in reducing sciatica pain caused by a muscle spasm. The oils in the root help relax the muscles and reduce tension. You may take valerian root supplements (150mg 3 times a day for couple of weeks) but consult your doctor first. You may also drink valerian tea. Just boil a cup of hot water and add 1 tsp of dried valerian root. Let it steep for 10 minutes and consume it few times per week for couple of days.
- Acupuncture – it will relax the muscles, help your body heal and relieve sciatica pain. When certain acupuncture points are stimulated the central nervous system is stimulated causing release of chemicals that produce a sense of well-being or change the perception of pain. There was a study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2009 which showed that warmed acupuncture with heated needles reduces sciatica pain. There were 30 participants involved and 17 of them got a complete relief. Remember to visit a skilled and experienced acupuncturist for a treatment.
- Spinal manipulation – there are different techniques which involve short and rapid thrusts and are included in the chiropractic spinal manipulation for soothing the irritation of the nerve responsible for inflammation and other symptoms of sciatica. A study from 2010 published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics showed that 6-% of the participants who suffered from sciatica gained benefits from spinal manipulation to the same extent as a surgical intervention. For a proper treatment of your health issue you should consult a chiropractor.
- Fenugreek movements – make a poultice from the fenugreek seeds in order to relieve sciatica pain because it provides anti-inflammatory benefits. It will also help you ease rheumatoid arthritis and gout pain. Take a handful of the seeds and grind them. Add them in some milk and boil the mixture until you get a mushy paste. Apply it on the affected area and let it stay for couple of hours. Finally wash it off and repeat the procedure on daily basis until you notice relief.
- Do not make any sudden movements;
- Avoid smoking cigarettes as it promotes disc degeneration;
- Your mattress needs to be neither too soft nor too firm;
- Exercise regularly, but do not engage in intense exercises;
- To relieve the pressure on the lower back good posture is beneficial;
- Practice techniques for proper lifting where your knees are bent and your back is straight;
- Take supplements of vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium, but first consult your doctor.