The term sciatica describes the symptoms of leg pain, which can include tingling, numbness or weakness. The pain originates in the lower back and travels down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg. The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body, made up of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back, then combine to form the sciatic nerve. Sciatica symptoms occur when the large sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed. The most common causes of sciatica are lower back problems such as a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Sciatic pain can vary from infrequent and irritating to constant and debilitating. Symptoms are usually based on the location of the pinched nerve. Sciatica is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Constant pain in only one side of the buttocks or leg
- Pain that is worse when sitting
- Leg pain that is described as tingling, burning or searing
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg, foot and toes
- A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand or walk
- Pain that radiates down the leg, into the foot and toes
Natural Remedies for Sciatica Pain
Living with sciatica makes pain management a priority. While painkillers are available, there are several more natural ways to help manage and reduce pain while increasing mobility and flexibility to help you get back on your feet.
1. Herbs and Oils
There’s nothing quite like nature’s medicine. Making teas from fresh or dried herbs and spices including peppermint, turmeric and holy basil can provide pain relief. Essential oils such as lavender, juniper, eucalyptus and rosemary can be applied topically to soothe pain from the outside.
Acupuncture boosts the flow of energy in the body and promotes proper nerve function. The first treatment may be enough to feel relief, or you might want to try a few sessions. Acupuncture is used to treat many health conditions, including migraines and stress.
Sleep is essential for the body to heal. It allows the nerves to relax and balance in order to rebuild and strengthen. The body needs enough sleep to maintain a healthy body and mind.
4. Chiropractic Adjustments
Studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments have different levels of effectiveness in treating sciatica, but many patients have experienced significant pain relief. Visiting a chiropractor can help restore mobility, improve function, reduce inflammation, decrease pain and promote natural healing.
Deep massages have shown success in the treatment of muscle spasms, pain and numbness. Using herb-infused oils and essential oils can help promote relaxation and pain relief for sore muscles.
6. Alternate Temperatures
The sciatic nerve is located deep in the body. Apply an ice pack, followed by a hot pack, or take a hot bath. The alternating temperatures can boost circulation and lymph flow, reducing deep inflammation and helping the body heal. Epsom salts or essential oils can be added to a bath for further pain relief.
Sciatica and yoga might not seem like a good mix, but it’s important to stay active to reduce pain. Gentle back or yoga stretches can enhance the healing process by stimulating blood flow, improving mobility and strengthening the muscles.
Some people find biking to be the ultimate way to cure sciatica pain. Check out this previous article on biking and sciatica pain!