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Remedies & Treatment for Sciatica

If you’ve ever suffered from sciatica in the past, you’ll know how awful the condition can be, and just how debilitating it is. The pain can come and go, and sometimes it may only make its presence felt in the form of a dull and slight throbbing. Sciatica is common complaint and there are a number treatments designed to provide pain relief from sciatica, many of which we’ll be taking a look at shortly. There are many exercises for sciatica and lower back pain, some of which have proved extremely effective. Before that, however, here’s a more detailed look at what sciatica is and what causes this debilitating condition.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes trapped or pinched within a person’s lower spine. Sometimes it isn’t the nerve itself that cause problems, but pinched or trapped nerves that run along the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica can leave some people bedridden for days or make it difficult drive, walk, or to even sit upright. The sciatic nerve can often become trapped or pinched via lower back problems, such as a slightly protruding or herniated disc. There are some instances where there are no apparent causes for the condition. When suffering from sciatic nerve pain, people often try to mask the pain by opting for pain relief drugs. These medications are good at dulling the pain but do not address the problem directly.

In reality, there are a number of effective ways to relieve sciatica, and contrary to popular belief, many of them are non-invasive. Rather than masking the pain with drugs, which then cause several other harmful side effects, here’s a look at a few effective and natural ways of treating and preventing sciatica.

Treatments and remedies for sciatica

Now that we’ve looked at sciatica and what might cause this condition, here’s a look at a few treatments and remedies for sciatica:

Massage therapy

Contrary to popular belief, massages are not only for relaxation and unwinding at a spa. Most forms of massage therapy can treat sciatica. If you are suffering from muscle spasms because of the condition, as well as numbness in the legs, a deep tissue massage, or perhaps a trigger point massage, would prove especially beneficial. Massage therapy can reduce inflammation and swelling in and around the sciatic nerve. Massage can also help to boost circulation and increase the production of endorphins, often called happy chemicals, because they literally make you feel much happier than usual.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is another holistic treatment that has proven incredibly beneficial for treating and preventing sciatica in a wide variety of different individuals. Acupuncture sciatica treatments require an individual to have super-fine needles stuck into their body at specific points in order to help achieve and enhance energy flows and enhanced nerve production and function. It may take several sessions for a person to feel relief via acupuncture, though the consensus is that acupuncture is one of the most effective natural treatments for sciatic nerve pain currently available.

Acupuncture is a staple part of traditional Chinese medicine, practiced for centuries. The needles target several specific pathways within the body and can provide relief for back-related, leg, and buttock pain.

Physiotherapy

There’s a natural tendency to spend time in bed when suffering from sciatic buttock pain. For people with sciatica, walking and moving can be unpleasant and painful. However, studies have proven that, rather than resting and staying sedentary for long periods, being more active is beneficial, which is why physiotherapy is so useful.

Physiotherapy is a form of active manipulation treatment that encourages movement. These movements help to improve blood flow and oxygen transportation around the body, allowing more blood and oxygen to travel to the sciatic nerve and the affected area of the back, and therefore assisting with the healing process. A physiotherapist will not only perform stretches and movements designed to help reduce inflammation in the back, they will also help to perform exercises that will reduce the likelihood of the condition happening again soon.

Stretching and yoga

Yoga and stretching have both been found to be extremely beneficial for a person’s general health and well-being. But the benefits can also be enjoyed by sciatica sufferers. Movements and exercises that shorten the spine can help ease pain and discomfort.

Try tennis ball therapy

Whilst it may sound slightly bizarre, tennis ball therapy is actually one of the most effective forms of physical and massage therapy currently in existence. Basically, tennis ball therapy combines the many elements associated with reflexology, massage therapy, and acupressure, to provide simple and effective relief from sciatica, and other similar conditions. Roll the tennis ball on the piriformis muscle, next to the sciatic nerve. The ball firmly massages the muscle and the surrounding tissues in the area, where it can help to break down inflamed muscle tissue and scar tissue.

With sciatica, often it is the piriformis muscle that causes problems, as the muscle can push down on the sciatic nerve, which is located underneath it, which can then result in numbness, tingling, and pain in the leg, hips, and buttocks. By using a tennis ball on trigger points in this muscle, however, the ball presses them; it reduces inflammation and muscle tension, plus it helps to promote flexibility and mobility.

Hot and cold therapy

When you suffer from a muscular-related injury, one of the first things to do is to apply ice to the injury and leave it for 15 minutes. With sciatica, combining heat therapy with cold therapy, however, is beneficial. When we apply back decompression ice packs to injuries, the ice provides pain relief by dramatically reducing inflammation and taking down any painful swelling. Whilst applying an ice pack to the sciatic nerve can be great at reducing swelling and inflammation, as the nerve is located so deep down, the ice can only penetrate so far before it needs to be replaced.

After icing the affected area for 15 minutes, experts recommend switching a cold pack for a hot pack or taking a very warm bath. By alternating temperatures, you can reduce inflammation, plus you can boost circulation and can increase oxygen and blood flow, plus lymph flows will improve. This helps to reduce internal inflammation and speeds up the natural healing processes within the body.

Get light exercise

We’ve already looked at why it’s beneficial for people to get physically active when suffering from sciatica, but in terms of exercise, yoga, stretching, and physiotherapy will only do so much. As mentioned, people dealing with sciatica think that resting up in bed, or horizontally on the couch, is the best way to treat the condition, when in reality doing so is doing them more harm than good. Even if the pain is only moderate, you should still avoid sitting down for prolonged periods of time, as that is placing more pressure on your lower back.

Ideally, get some light exercise each day, such as going for a brisk walk. Try to take more steps every day and to walk slightly longer than last time, and although painful at first, you will find that the more you walk and the more active you become, the less painful your sciatica will become. The bottom line is that when sciatica is causing you pain, sitting or laying down for a prolonged period is only going to make the condition worse, so force yourself to get active and to get some light exercise each day.

Try Devil’s claw

Although this natural herbal ingredient has a pretty dramatic name, it is actually very beneficial for somebody dealing with sciatic nerve issues. It functions as a highly potent and powerful natural anti-inflammatory, and potentially to be just as powerful, if not more so, in fact, as Ibuprofen. Ideally, begin with dosages of around 1500mg–2000mg twice per day, although it should be avoided if you are using blood-thinning medications, or if you are suffering with peptic ulcers.

Epsom salts

Epsom salts are renowned for their near miraculous healing properties, and these properties really prove their worth for treating sciatica. Epsom salts help to relax the muscles and they naturally draw out harmful toxins from the body. With sciatica, it is the muscle relaxing benefits that prove useful, especially when you take an Epsom salt bath. Ideally you should run the bath as hot as you can tolerate it, dissolve 2 large cups of salts in the bath, and before getting in you should apply an ice pack to your lower back, making use of the hot and cold therapy methods we looked at previously.

The warmth of the bath, along with the salts, will relax the muscles, will help to reduce inflammation and swelling, and will help you to relax and unwind as well. Sciatica can make it very tough to sleep at night, and as we do much of our healing when we sleep, you will want to take any help that you can get. Your nerves and muscles will really benefit from the salts and from the sleep that they help promote, so make sure you try an Epsom salt bath out as soon as you can, as you will really benefit.

4 thoughts on “Remedies & Treatment for Sciatica”

  1. Thanks for sharing this, going through a rough spell now and your info is concise, clear and makes perfect sense. Much appreciated.

  2. The Epsom salt bath is currently giving me such relief after a very painful week of sciatica. I’ve used these baths for many years to draw out toxins. Not sure why I didn’t immediately think of them for this. Thank you!

  3. Hi thank you for the interesting article. It was very informative, I’ve been trying accupuncture, deep tissue massage, physiotherapy etc for the last year, all to no avail. I have a trapped nerve between
    L4- L5, also a trapped femeral nerve, which is extremely painful when sitting down. Could you recommend any treatments that you think could help, especially with the trapped femeral nerve please?
    Many thanks Joanne

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