6 Natural Ways to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain
[Food is Medicine] Ever wake up feeling agonizing pain all the way from your upper thighs to your feet? Do you deal with nagging lower back pain that spreads downward through your buttock and won’t seem to quit no matter what you try? You could be dealing with sciatic nerve pain, also called sciatica, which causes painful throbbing in the lower back and limbs. The pain radiates down the body and can be a symptom of spinal stenosis. It’s also closely related to piriformis syndrome since the piriformis muscle is near the sciatic nerve.
The problem all starts in the lower spine and can come and go, but one thing’s usually certain — when sciatic nerve pain rears its ugly head, you’re dealing with a whole lot of discomfort that can quickly ruin your day. Given that the sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body, this makes sense.
The good news is there are remedies for back pain that treat sciatic nerve pain and improve spine health. What are these natural sciatica treatments, and what causes this debilitating lower-body pain? Let’s investigate.
What Is Sciatic Nerve Pain?
When certain nerves become pinched in the lower spine running along the sciatic nerve — which is the largest single nerve in the human body — intense pain can develop that runs the entire length of the legs. Sciatic nerve pain is usually repetitive, felt primarily in one leg and can be described as “intolerable” by most people who experience it (something like a very bad toothache!). What makes matters worse is that many people don’t know how it developed in the first place or what they can do to prevent lower back pain from returning. Plus, it can difficult to discern between sciatica and arthritis, often making it difficult to diagnose.
While many people turn to pain-reducing medications or even surgery to correct the problem, studies have actually found that less invasive treatment options — like chiropractic spinal adjustments — can be just as effective for healing sciatic nerve pain. In fact, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapies found that nearly 60 percent of patients with sciatica who failed other medical treatments benefited from spinal manipulation just as well as if they had undergone surgical intervention! (1)
And there’s more good news: Acupuncture, yoga and massage therapy are other alternative treatment approaches that have proven to help act like natural muscle relaxers and kick this type of debilitating pain for good.
The best part about trying these natural sciatica treatments? They come with very little risk of negative side effects, don’t harm nerve anatomy, along with numerous other perks like reduced stress levels, better range of motion, protection from injuries and even better immunity.
6 Natural Treatments for Sciatic Nerve Pain
Specific treatment approaches for sciatica always depend on what’s causing the nerve anatomy damage to begin with, so seeing a professional is worthwhile. Some doctors choose to use medications like anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxers or steroids to treat severe sciatic nerve pain, but there’s strong evidence that physical therapy, chiropractor adjustments and stretching can all dramatically improve someone’s condition.
Natural treatments for sciatica include:
- Chiropractor Spinal Adjustments
There are different types of ruptured or herniated discs — some that cause more nerve pain than others. Prolapse disc bulges are less severe because the outermost layer of the disc is still intact, but extrusion or sequestration disc bulges are more drastic and usually more painful.
These types cause damage to the outer layer of the spinal disc, which leads tissue to spill out from where it’s normally constrained. When the problem progresses, spinal tissue can disconnect from the disc altogether, while disc tissue can enter the spinal canal.
For doctors, it’s important to know what type of spinal injury someone is experiencing in order to know the appropriate treatment approach. Sciatica can be diagnosed during a physical exam by a chiropractor, or your primary doctor might choose to perform X-rays and other tests like a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test to investigate the damage in the spine. After diagnosis, a chiropractor can work with you to realign the spinal discs and prevent protrusion into the canal, targeting the underlying source of pain. (2)
One study published in the Official Journal of the North American Spinal Society found that after comparing results in 102 adults who suffered from sciatic nerve pain, those who received chiropractic adjustments experienced less local pain, fewer number of days with pain, and fewer cases of moderate or severe pain compared to people who didn’t receive adjustments. (3)
- Yoga and Stretching
Moving in certain ways can aggravate sciatic pain, but in some cases it can actually help relieve the pain. Some people find that sitting, standing for a long time and moving around abruptly tend to trigger pain. The types of movements that tend to make pain worse involve scrunching or shortening the spine, such as raising the legs up, bringing the knees toward the chests or squatting.
On the other hand, lengthening the spine through stretching, yoga or laying down can help develop good posture while reducing stiffness, inflammation and pain in a big way.
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