Six ways to stop sciatic nerve pain

What is sciatica? Sciatica is persistent pain felt along the sciatic nerve; runs from the lower back to the feet. It controls the muscles of the legs and provides sensation to the thighs, legs, and soles of the feet. Sciatica occurs most often in people between the ages of thirty and fifty. It is usually caused by repetitive use type conditions such as sitting for long periods of time or normal wear and tear. It is rarely caused by an acute injury.

Sciatica pain can sometimes be debilitating and can become so severe that it can be difficult for one to sit, walk, or even sleep. Some people experience tingling, while for others it’s just a dull ache. Occasionally it can be a type of burning sensation. Sciatic nerve pain is usually caused by pinching or irritation of the nerve in the lower back or lumbar spine. The nerve then becomes inflamed, causing a variety of symptoms that can wreak havoc with one’s lifestyle.

The most conservative type of treatment for sciatica is the application of ice. I recommend my patients lie down with two pillows under their knees and apply ice to the lower back on the affected side for fifteen minutes. This can be repeated up to every hour if necessary. It is important not to apply ice for more than twenty minutes at a time because this can aggravate the condition. Applying ice to the source of the problem will decrease nerve inflammation and subsequently decrease pain. Although this may be a temporary solution, it does offer some relief.

Spinal manipulation to relieve pressure on the nerve has been shown in studies to be one of the most effective treatments for sciatic pain. Manipulation is the best place to start when someone has sciatic nerve pain. It is a non-invasive and drug-free treatment option. The goal of manipulation is to realign the bones of the spine by removing pressure from the nerve. When the pressure on the nerve is relieved, there is often great improvement with decreased pain and swelling.

Another very effective conservative treatment is a conservative exercise program. There are many exercises available, but these are the ones that I have found in my clinical experience to be the most effective. The first exercise is to lie on your back with your knees bent. Squeeze or flex your glutes toward the ceiling. Hold this position for a count of ten and slowly return to the neutral position. Repeat this four times. Starting in the neutral position, bring each leg in toward your chest with both hands, one at a time. Follow this by drawing both knees toward your chest, lifting your head back up for a count of ten and slowly return to neutral and repeat four times. A third exercise is to lie on your stomach and arch back with your elbows on the floor, moving from a neutral position to a comfortable flexed position by arching back as far as you can, but discontinuing if your back or leg pain worsens. The fourth exercise is on your hands and knees, pushing your back toward the ceiling and then pulling your back toward the floor (this is often called the cat stretch). These exercises should be started slowly and if there is any pain or discomfort, stop before pain occurs. I would recommend doing these exercises two to three times a day.

There are many nutritional aspects of sciatic nerve pain that you may not be aware of. A pro-inflammatory diet, meaning one rich in meat, dairy, and seafood, will promote inflammation of all the nerves. An anti-inflammatory diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and fish. This is one of the most powerful ways to treat the symptoms of inflammation and relieve pain.

The nutrients that I found most effective in treating sciatic nerve pain are turmeric, tulsi, and rosemary. These powerful herbs have been studied and found to greatly reduce inflammation. Boswellia is a herb that is a specific anti-inflammatory. This is especially useful for arthritic patients. Bromelain is a plant enzyme found in pineapples that has natural anti-inflammatory effects. I prefer to take this with papain as well, it is essential that you take this on an empty stomach to really reap the benefits of the anti-inflammatory nature. Ginger is a powerful herb that offers pain relief. You can steep fresh ginger in boiling water and use it as a tea or make a juice out of it. Evening primrose oil, black currant oil or borage oils contain the essential fatty acids gamma-linolenic acid. These omegas will greatly reduce the inflammatory process and eliminate inflammation of the sciatic nerve.

There are many ergonomically beneficial positions that will improve sciatic nerve pain regardless of the cause. It is an important part of your treatment to improve your posture and use your body correctly. A good posture allows the use of the body without tension in the muscles, joints, ligaments and internal organs. Good posture must be considered in all activities: sitting, standing, resting, working, playing and exercising. It’s just not a matter of “standing up”.

In the resting position, it is beneficial to lie on your back with two pillows under your knees, or lie on your side with a pillow between your knees. Avoid positions such as sleeping flat without a pillow, face down, or lying on your stomach with one knee bent. This will cause a ‘rock back’ condition. Some simple things, like getting up and out of bed, to get into bed it is preferable to sit on the side of the bed, bring both arms to the side, lower the side of the bed keeping your knees bent at forty-five degrees. , then put your feet on the bed. Stay on one side or roll onto your back. When getting out of bed, it is best to roll onto your side and push up with your hands to a sitting position keeping your knees bent and swinging your legs over the edge of the bed. When sitting down, avoid meat that is too high, as this will increase the lean back. When sitting, the knees should be higher than the hips, as this will flatten the lumbar curve. Avoid slouching in a chair with your feet on an ottoman as this can strain your lower back. When traveling by car, the seat should be close to the steering wheel and use a small pillow for adequate lumbar support. When standing I recommend placing one foot on a stool or shelf and after a short time switch to the other foot, this will flatten the lumbar curve and relieve pressure on the lumbar spine. When lifting, avoid bending at the waist. Bend your knees and bring the object close to your body. As you squat, bend your knees and push your buttocks out instead of bending at the waist.

My final advice to stop sciatic nerve pain is to drink lots of water. A dehydrated body is one that will have a hard time healing. It is important to drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day to keep the body well hydrated and flush out toxins accumulated by muscle spasms resulting from pain and inflammation. The water will also hydrate the disk. Between the bones of the spine are intervertebral discs that dry out as we age, the more we can keep them hydrated, the less degenerative arthritis will occur in the spine. This is also the reason why we get shorter as we age as each little disc between the vertebrae dries up or dries up and then subsequent height loss will occur.

By following these simple steps to stop sciatic nerve pain, you will go a long way to prevent any discomfort in the future and avoid the harmful side effects of medications or painful surgery. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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