Sciatica describes the pain originating from the sciatic nerve; it most commonly originates in the middle/upper area of the gluteal muscle (buttocks) and can radiate all the way down the leg. Sciatica can also lead to numbness and tingling, weakness in the leg and foot and altered sensation in the skin of the leg. Sciatic pain is usually described as burning, stabbing or like an electrical shock.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body (about as wide as a finger) and is actually comprised of 5 separate nerves that exit the lumbar and sacral spine. Sciatic nerve pain has many causes; most often it’s due to something that’s irritating one of the 5 nerve roots (herniated or ‘slipped’ discs, bone spurs, muscle spasms) or the entire nerve can be irritated by muscle spasms in the low back and gluteus muscles.
Most of the time sciatica only occurs on one side of the body. About 40% of people will have sciatica pain at some point in their life - in fact, low back pain is one of the top three reasons why people go to the doctor!
The main causes of sciatica typically include:
Herniated discs - the disc puts pressure on the nerve root, causing pain and altered sensations.
Degenerative disc disease - as aging occurs, the discs become flatter and the space between the vertebrae get smaller - this can also aggrieve the nerves here.
Osteoarthritis - as bones age, they can develop tiny outgrowths known as ‘spurs’ - these can also put pressure on nerve roots causing sciatica.
Piriformis syndrome - the piriformis is a small muscle deep within the buttocks - it, and surrounding muscles can become tight and spasmed and ‘crunch’ the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica.
Muscle tightness and spasms in the back and buttocks - similar to piriformis syndrome - can clench down on nerve roots causing sciatic pain.
Most of the time, sciatica will resolve with conservative care at home. However, it can be painful and keep you from doing your regular activities!
Here are some of the best ways to get rid of sciatica:
Start with gentle stretching.Work to stretch the low back, gluteus and hamstring muscles.Stretch out at least twice a day. Keep it easy and pain free.
Mind your posture.The nerves that are aggravated in sciatica come from the low back. If your posture is poor, this just puts more pressure on those nerves.
Keep moving.Excess sitting and inactivity can worsen pain and slow the healing.
Acupuncture is great for relieving the pain of sciatica.
Natural anti-inflammatories.Because sciatica is an inflammatory condition, getting the inflammation under control is an important part of the healing process. Inflammation Relief:The systemic enzyme formula found in Inflammation Relief breaks down the pain-generating chemicals your body makes in response to injury and tissue damage. It also speeds healing by improving oxygen and nutrient delivery to damaged areas. Curcumin Relief: Made of a highly absorbable form of turmeric, Curcumin Relief is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories available.
Natural pain relievers B6 Complex provides a wide range of B-vitamins that may help reduce nerve fiber irritation. Phytoprofen combines several botanical medicines with anti-inflammatory and anti-pain properties for effective natural pain relief.
If, after 6 weeks or so of trying these therapies and there’s no change in sciatica symptoms, or it becomes more painful, it’s time to seek more professional care.This should include x-rays and possibly an MRI to identify what, if anything else is going on in the spine. Depending on these findings, physical therapy can be utilized.