The pain caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve is called sciatica. It is severe and debilitating although it typically affects just one part of the body, starting from the lower back and continuing down the back of the leg.
Another symptoms can include tingling or burning sensation in the leg, weakness and numbness down the affected leg and toes, shooting pain that causes difficulty sitting down or standing up.
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The most common cause of sciatica is a slipped or herniated disc, but it can as well be caused by degenerative disc disease, spinal injury or infection, spinal stenosis, pregnancy, piriformis syndrome, and isthmic spondylolisthesis. Nowadays, there are various conventional treatments for this condition, but most of them soothe the pain only temporarily. Moreover, most of the steroid injections can lead to severe side effects.
You can lower the pressure and inflammation on the irritated sciatic nerve with the help of some natural therapies and home remedies, as the problem usually disappears with time, around six weeks, and with rest.
We present you ten home remedies for the painful sciatica:
Not only that it can relieve sciatica pain, but massage therapy can help the body heal itself, particularly if the cause of the problem is a muscle spasm. Moreover, it helps stimulate circulation, release tension, and raises the range of motion. Due to St John’s wort’s anti-inflammatory properties, this herb can relieve sciatica inflammation and pain. Use St. John’s wort oil to massage the affected area two to three times per day, until you notice relief.
Another alternative is to prepare a mixture of one cup of sesame oil and three tablespoons ofnutmeg powder. Heat the mixture and let it cool until it’s comfortably warm before you start with the massage. This treatment should be repeated couple of times a day for a few weeks.
Since the pain in the lower back, thighs and buttocks is often linked to the trigger points in thegluteus minimus and medius muscles, you can also consider trigger-point massage at least once a day.
2. Hot or Cold Compresses
You can relieve the sciatica inflammation and pain with hot or cold compresses. Cold compress numbs the pain and lowers the swelling around the nerve. Heat compress relaxes tense muscles which might be pressing the sciatic nerve.
Another way is to combine heat and cold treatment, beginning with the hot and ending with the cold treatment. Use steamed towel (moist heat) for the hot compress since it’s more effective. Put a cold or hot pack on the affected area, and let it stay for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat this every couple of hours until you notice pain relief.
Note: Those with circulatory problems shouldn’t use cold compresses
Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric is also used as a natural treatment of sciatica. Its active compound, curcumin, helps lower nerve pain and inflammation. Boil one cup of milk with added teaspoon of turmeric, and a small cinnamon stick if you like. Add honey for a sweeter taste and consume this healthy drink one or two times a day until you notice improvement.
Another alternative is to take turmeric supplements, 250-300 milligrams 3 times a day in the period of several weeks. However, you should consult your doctor prior to taking them.
Note: People suffering from gallstones, and those taking diabetes medication and blood thinners shouldn’t use turmeric.
4. Capsaicin Cream
Capsaicin, the active compound in cayenne pepper, is a natural pain reliever as it helps deplete the substance P levels (a neurotransmitter that transports pain signals). Apply an ointment or cream that contains 0.025% to 0.075% capsaicin on the affected area up to four times a day, in a period of one week.
Note: Don’t apply capsaicin cream or ointment on a broken skin, as it may initially cause a burning sensation.
Exercise and regular physical activity is extremely important for the treatment of sciatica. Begin regular exercise routine to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, a day or two after the flare-up of sciatica. In this way you will hasten the recovery process.
Knee to Chest Stretch is great for lowering the sciatic nerve irritation and improving your lower back’s flexibility.
- Lie down on your back on the floor with stretched and hip-width apart legs.
- Relax your upper body and bend your knee upwards while breathing in.
- Pull your thigh towards your chest with your hands clasped behind it, as far as it’s comfortable for you.
- Your leg should stay flat on the ground.
- Remain in this position for about 20 seconds and keep in mind to have controlled and deep breaths during this period. After this period, lower your leg carefully.
- Do the same procedure with the other leg. After repeating this three to five times, do the exercise with both legs for about three to five minutes.
Other exercises to reduce your lower back and sciatica pain are specific yoga poses such as pigeon pose and cat-cow pose, but you can as well try spinal decompression exercises.
Note: Consult your doctor to make the appropriate exercise program for you.
6. White Willow Bark
The bark of white willow provides long-lasting pain relief. It possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties due to the present olic glycosides with salicin. Take 120 milligram of white willow supplement or 240 milligrams of salicin per day for a period of few weeks, after consulting with your doctor.
7. Valerian Root
The root of this herb relieves chronic nerve pain, and it’s especially effective in reducing sciatica pain caused by a muscle spasm. The volatile oils in valerian root help relax muscles and reduce tension, so it is also used as a sleeping aid. Take valerian root supplements, 150 milligrams 3 times a day for several weeks. However, don’t forget to consult your doctor before taking the supplements.
Another option is to drink valerian tea. To prepare it, boil a cup of hot water, and add a teaspoon of dried valerian root, allowing it to steep for 10 minutes. Consume this tea few times a week for couple of weeks.
You can use acupuncture to relax the muscles, relieve sciatica pain, and help your body heal on its own. It is considered that when certain acupuncture points are stimulated, the central nervous system is as well stimulated causing release of chemicals, which either produce a sense of well-being, or change the perception of pain.
The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine has published a 2009 study which shows that warmed acupuncture with heated needles reduces sciatica pain. The study involved 30 participants, out of which 17 got complete relief sciatica after this type of treatment. Always go to a skilled and experienced acupuncturist for an acupuncture treatment.
9. Spinal Manipulation
One of the popular natural treatments for back and neck pain is the chiropractic care. Various techniques involving short and rapid thrusts are included in the chiropractic spinal manipulation to soothe irritation of the nerve responsible for inflammation and other sciatica symptoms.
The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics has published a 2010 study in which 60 percent of the participants suffering from sciatica have gained benefits from spinal manipulation to the same extent as a surgical intervention could have provided. Consult a chiropractor for a proper treatment for your sciatica pain.
10. Fenugreek Seeds
Prepare a poultice from fenugreek seeds to relieve your sciatica pain, as it provides anti-inflammatory benefits. Moreover, it eases gout pains and rheumatoid arthritis.
You will need a handful of fenugreek seeds and some milk. Grind the seeds and add them some milk. Boil the mixture until you get a mushy paste. Apply the prepared mixture on the affected area as a poultice, and allow it to stay a few hours. Wash it off and repeat it on a daily basis until you notice relief.
- Avoid making sudden movements
- Practice techniques for proper lifting where your back is straight and your knees bent
- Good posture is beneficial for relieving pressure on the lower back
- Regular exercise is beneficial, but avoid engaging in intense exercise
- Use a mattress which is neither too soft nor too firm
- Try to avoid smoking cigarettes since it promotes disc degeneration
- Take magnesium, vitamin C, and calcium supplements after consulting your doctor
- Consider other herbal remedies, like the alcohol-based extract prepared from the parijat (harshiangar) leaves (1); 1,500 to 2,000 mg twice a day of devil’s claw (don’t use it if you have peptic ulcer). Consult your doctor before taking these natural remedies for a proper dosage and suitability