Sciatica is a condition that is signified by a sharp pain in the sciatic nerve, which is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. Because it extends from the lower back to the knees, one can experience knee pain, gluteus pain, or pain in the hamstrings. Scientists believe that roughly 40% of people will experience sciatica at some point in their lives. It is not so much a condition as it is a symptom of a larger problem that involves the sciatic nerve.
What Are The Causes?
There are many things that can cause sciatica, but roughly 90% of sciatica cases are caused by a herniated (slipped) disc. The spine is made up into three parts: vertebrae, nerves, and discs. Discs are made up of cartilage, which acts as a cushion between the vertebrae. A herniated disc occurs when the disc slips out of place, which ultimately puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. No matter what the cause is, they all involve irritating the root(s) of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine. Other causes may include:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Muscle spasm in the buttocks or back
- Tumors on the spine
- Spinal infection
Massage therapy is very beneficial for those with sciatica. You can help yourself even more by massaging the area with tiger balm or St. John’s wort oil about 2-3 times a day. St. John’s wort oil has amazing anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve inflammation in the affected area. Try purchasing a session with someone who does trigger point massage therapy. The focus points should be the lower back, buttocks, hips, thighs, hamstrings, and knees. You may also want to consider getting several chiropractic adjustments to help realign the spine.
Yoga and stretching are great natural remedies to help relieve sciatica. This may seem counterintuitive, considering that movement can cause pain, but certain movements actually relieve the pain. Try laying down on your back and bringing your knees to your chest. You can alternate legs and do both at the same time. Yoga poses to consider are Child’s Pose, Downward Dog, and Cobra.
Ice Whenever You Can
It is very helpful to ice the affected area with an ice pack. Ice for 15-20 minutes at a time to help decrease inflammation. If you like heat, alternate between hot and cold throughout the day to help relieve pain.
Brew Valerian Root Tea
Valerian root can be brewed into a tea and it has a relaxing effect on chronic nerve pain. Because sciatica is usually accompanied by muscle spasms, valerian tea is a great natural remedy. Brew 1 teaspoon of valerian root in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Drink this herbal tea several times a week to help relieve the pain.
Try to avoid sitting down for long periods of time. It is best to get moving to avoid bulging discs. Being static can increase inflammation in the affected area and make the condition worse. The best exercises to do are isometric exercises. These exercises don’t involve joint angle or muscle length change, which means that you won’t be stressing the sciatic nerve.
Acupuncture is another alternative remedy that can help relieve sciatica. By stimulating certain acupressure points, the treatment can help open certain channels in the body and allow the nervous system to flow smoothly. By relaxing the muscles, acupuncture can help the body naturally heal itself.