Natural Fixes for Sciatica

Natural Fixes for Sciatica

Sharp, electrical jolt-like pain running down the back of your leg could be sciatica. This is when the sciatic nerve becomes affected by a variety of causes resulting in nagging to debilitating soreness. Sciatica can cause you to limp, experience lower limb weakness, back, hip or knee pain as well as overall fatigue to name a few symptoms.

Sciatica hurts and rather than fall into the rabbit hole of pharmacological approaches, there are natural fixes for sciatica that just may do the trick to get you out of pain fast.

Super Electrical Cord

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It originates as one bundle of nerve branches fed from the lower four vertebrae and the first three segments of the sacral plexus, the triangular bone below the rear spine. Once these five branches combine it travels as one (now the sciatic nerve) below the gluteus (butt) muscles, particularly the muscle deep in the hip called the piriformis, and down the back of each leg.

The sciatic nerve itself is not only the longest but it is one of the thickest branches as well. Some describe it as wide as a man’s thumb or feeling like a household electrical extension chord.

Moving Along

You may have a daily routine that involves sitting at a computer or driving for long hours. This is one of the ways sciatica can manifest. The less you move the more chances the sciatic nerve can become compromised. Yet, many people that have sciatica are afraid to move too much out of fear of making it worse.

Movement is essential for overall health and especially for relieving or preventing sciatica. Whether it is a thirty minute evening and/or morning walk or a trip to the gym several times per week, exercise increases blood flow to the sciatic nerve while reducing inflammatory proteins which may be affecting the nerve.

A study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science (1/16)  titled ‘The effects of self-mobilization techniques for the sciatic nerves on physical functions and health of low back pain patients with lower limb radiating pain’ concluded that,

“…the mobilization techniques of the sciatic nerves may promote healing of the soft tissues by stimulating the functions of the nervous system to improve nervous system adaptability and decrease sensitivity, helping to alleviate symptoms.”

If you have minimal movement daily, add in some routines to keep your body running on all cylinders. If you suffer with sciatica, move slowly and diligently until you feel relief.

Open Up

Sciatica stretches can make a world of difference, particularly if you are experiencing an acute flareup. Healthline describes several stretches for sciatica pain as well as increasing muscle strength to support proper nerve functioning. These are two of many ways you can open up the sciatic nerve pathway allowing for contracting muscles to recede and the nerve to calm.

Sitting Pigeon Pose

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you.
  • Bend your right leg, putting your right ankle on top of the left knee.
  • Lean forward and allow your upper body to reach toward your thigh.
  • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. This stretches the glutes and lower back.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

  • Place your right foot on an elevated surface at or below your hip level. This could be a chair, ottoman, or step on a staircase. Flex your foot so your toes and leg are straight. If your knee tends to hyper extend, keep a slight bend in it.
  • Bend your body forward slightly toward your foot. The further you go, the deeper the stretch. Do not push so far that you feel pain.
  • Release the hip of your raised leg downward as opposed to lifting it up. If you need help easing your hip down, loop a yoga strap or long exercise band over your right thigh and under your left foot.
  • Hold for at least 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Many stretches that alleviate sciatica pain can be found in a traditional yoga session. If you want to go further than home stretching, many pain-free benefits have been attributed when practicing yoga. A study of yoga for low back pain easily correlates with sciatica symptoms. Published in the Journal of Orthopedics & Rheumatology (1/16) it was concluded that,

“Yoga appears as effective as other non-pharmacologic treatments in reducing the functional disability of back pain. It appears to be more effective in reducing pain severity or “bothersomeness” of CLBP [chronic low back pain] when compared to usual care or no care. Yoga may have a positive effect on depression and other psychological co-morbidities, with maintenance of serum BDNF and serotonin levels. Yoga appears to be an effective and safe intervention for chronic low back pain.”

Try home stretches and/or yoga to keep sciatica at bay.

Knead it, Needle It

Before you reach for a pharmaceutical fix, try massage or acupuncture for sciatica pain. Nowadays, massage has gone from luxury to therapy with the term “masseuse” being eradicated for the more valid title of massage therapist. A licensed massage therapist (LMT) is trained in anatomy, physiology and applicable pathology for treatment of many conditions including sciatica.

Massage Envy reports of a study cited by WebMD,

“Massage can be highly effective in treating the pain of sciatica. WebMD describes a study of 400 people with low back pain who received either weekly massages, or permission to try whatever they liked. (Alternatives to massage therapy included medication, seeing a chiropractor, doctor or physical therapist, or taking no action at all.) Ten weeks later, the massage recipients reported better functioning and less pain. In fact, more than a third of them said their pain was completely or nearly gone, while only 4% of those in the other group reported such improvement.”

Acupuncture has also been a highly effective alternative sciatica remedy. The treatment consists of hair thin needles placed in various locations throughout your body that correlate with sciatica pain. The needles do not draw blood and are rarely painful (some report minor discomfort at first which immediately recedes). With the needles in place you then lie there for thirty minutes or so. The needles are removed and the session is over. That’s it. The recommended acupuncture protocol for sciatica is twice a week for six weeks then sporadic visits for maintenance.

A study published in Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine stated that,

“Acupuncture is thought to stimulate inhibitory nerve fibers for a short period, reducing transmission of pain signal to the brain. Acupuncture treatment activates endogenous analgesic [internal pain relief] mechanisms, causing secretion of endorphin which is an endogenous opioid and triggering release of adenosine, producing a rapidly effective analgesic action on radicular sciatica.”

 

These are some of many natural fixes for sciatica. In addition, sticking to a high plant-based diet and avoiding processed foods and meats will help natural anti-inflammatory compounds to flourish and add to sciatica pain reduction.



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