The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in our human body.
It starts in the lumbar spinal cord with nerve roots that go from the lower back and into the buttocks area. The nerve endings reach into the legs and it controls all our leg movements. Sciatica pain is nerve pain occurring from the irritation of the sciatic nerve.
- Sciatica pain is typically felt from the low back to behind the thigh, radiating down below the knee.
- It is typically described as a shooting or burning pain from the lower back, into the hip, and all the way to the feet.
- It hurts and affects routine activities so much so that they find it hard to sit, to walk, and even to lie in bed.
Sciatica pain can be caused by damaged discs, inflamed tissues surrounding the nerve, and a chronically tight piriformis muscle, compressing the nerve.
As long term compression of a nerve can lead to nerve damage it is always better to treat it early. There are a few household remedies you can try for sciatica pain.
- Consume foods that help relieve pain
- Garlic – This powerful allium vegetable provides strong anti inflammatory compounds. About 4-5 garlic buds should be crushed and added in 500 ml milk and boiled till it remains half. Divide it in two parts; take one in the morning and other in the evening. The other alternative is to take 4 raw garlic buds everyday early in the morning.
- Pineapple – Pineapple contains a host of very powerful anti inflammatory enzymes that help the body heal. It is one of the most effective natural cures for sciatica. Drinking one glass of fresh pineapple juice on a daily basis gives you the desired results.
- Ginger Root – Ginger is definitely your go to food for getting relief from sciatica pain. Add one grated teaspoon of fresh ginger to a cup of hot water. Take two times daily. The daily dosage quantity is about 0.5 to 1 mg of powdered ginger daily, so you can also add grated ginger to salads or soups.
2. Herbal Remedies –
- Devil's Claw – The herb has anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties that helps to heal the radiating pain and numbness arising out of sciatica. Due to its anti-rheumatic properties it is the most useful remedy to treat the lower back pain. You can take this either in capsule form or consume it in the form of tea by adding the dried roots to boiling water. The daily dosage of this herbal tea is 3 times a day.
- St. John Wort – Available as tea or tinctures this herb's anti-inflammatory and astringent properties give you relief against the tingling feeling associated with Sciatica.
3. Massage Oils – A massage not only helps relax the muscles in the back it can and loosen some of the muscles that are affected by the sciatic nerve.
- St. John Wort's Oil – Massaging the affected area with this oil 4-5 times a day helps to relieve the associated nerve pain. It is known to regenerate the nerve tissue. Ensure the oil is red in color while buying it. If its not red in color, it implies that it contains some other active ingredient that can reduce the effectiveness of the mixture.
- Chamomile – It can be diluted with vegetable oil and rubbed on the painful parts of the body to reduce stiffness and pain.
4. Use a heating pad or a hot pack four to five days when there is flare up. Alternate between the heat and the cold compresses. An ice pack may reduce inflammation that is associated with sciatic nerve pain.
5. Exercise & Stretches
- Ardha Matsyendrasana – In this yoga posture as you twist your body while in a seated position it energizes the spine. It stretches your hips and releases tension. Hold in the twisted position for 10 breaths on one side before you switch to do it on the opposite side.
- Lying Stretches – Lie straight on your back on a mat. Bend your left leg. Then, get your right foot over the left and rest it just above the left knee. This is similar to how you cross your legs when seated on a chair. Reach your arms around your left knee, grasp and pull the left leg towards your body. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds before alternating with the other leg. See the exercise image here.
- Bhujangasana – This yoga posture helps to strengthen the muscles present near the sciatica nerve. By performing this asana fresh blood is sent to the lower back region of the body which is great for relieving stiffness and pain.
- For more exercises for sciatica visit NHS Choices.
6. Correct Posture
- Walking / Standing: Stand straight and make sure your lower back is not curved. Use smooth, gentle and relaxed movements. Tense muscles increase the pain.
- Carrying: When going out shopping, do not carry all the shopping bags in one hand. Distribute weight evenly on both shoulders, and in both hands. It is recommended to use backpacks rather than shoulder bags. Never hang on a bag only on one shoulder.
- Sitting: While at work or at home, use a chair which supports your lower back. Keep your knees at the same level as your hips, with your feet flat on the ground. Using a lower back pillow, or rolled towel will help relieve your lower back pain. While getting up from the chair use the arms of the chair for support.
Additional pointers to be kept in mind
- Avoid lifting and pushing heavy things all by yourself without any help.
- Avoid making sudden movements.
- If your mattress is too soft consider replacing it with a firm one, or you may even just place a firm mattress on the top of it. .
- Avoid driving when the pain is severe as it worsens the condition. Also while you are at the wheel, use a pillow or lumbar roll to support the lower back and keep your back straight.
- Regular exercising will help to improve and strengthen your core muscles in the abdomen and lower back
When the sciatic nerve pain acts up, get professional help as soon as possible. Don’t ignore it for too long as it can then get worse.