The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves in the body. It begins at the lower spine and runs through the buttocks and down the lower limb to the foot. This nerve provides movement, feeling and strength in the legs.
About 40% of the world’s population will suffer from sciatica at some point in their lives. Sciatica is a condition that can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower limbs, but it is often mistaken for lower back pain or even leg cramps. It starts as a pressure or pinch on the nerve, and then continues as a pain down the back to the legs.
You can experience a mild ache and numbness, or a sharp, burning and extremely painful sensation that affects one side of the body. The pain and discomfort can require people to stay in bed, and most of them often take ibuprofen or some other over-the-counter medication to relieve the pain.
In this article, we will give you eight natural ways to treat the inflammation and relieve the pain.
1. Chiropractic Adjustments – Studies based on chiropractic adjustments have shown different levels of effectiveness in treating sciatica, but many patients have experienced significant relief. Manipulating the spine can restore mobility, improve function, reduce inflammation, decrease pain, and promote natural healing.
2. Acupuncture – This alternative treatment involves inserting hair-fine needles at certain points on the body. Acupuncture boosts the flow of energy and also contributes to proper nerve function. You should feel some relief after the very first treatment, but many people would benefit by receiving a few sessions.
3. Ice Packs – Ice packs, or a simple package of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, can work wonders to provide instant relief for sciatica. Apply the packs directly on the affected area for 20 minutes, every two hours, until the pain is completely gone.
4. Alternate Temperatures – Ice packs are a proven way to get instant relief, but the sciatic nerve is located deep in the body, so the packs cannot go deeper to where the inflammation is located. Apply a hot pack, right after the ice pack — or better yet, take a hot bath. By alternating the temperatures, you can boost the circulation and lymph flow. This will reduce the deeper inflammation and aid in the healing process. For even better results, add some Epsom salts or anti-inflammatory herbs or essential oils to your bath.
5. Mild (Yoga) Stretches – When you struggle with sciatica, moving around is probably the last thing that comes to mind. But it is important to be active, because otherwise the pain can last longer. Many people have confirmed that gentle back or yoga stretches really enhance their healing process. These exercises will stimulate the blood flow, strengthen your back muscles and improve your mobility.
6. Massage – Deeper massaging or trigger-point therapies have shown great success in the treatment of muscle spasms, pain, and numbness of the legs and toes. Herb-infused oils and essential oils will also give you good results.
7. Herbs & Oils – Nature provides many herbs that have beneficial effects, and many of them can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. They can be found in capsules, salves, liniments and infused oils. You can also make tea from fresh or dried herbs, or use elixirs, tinctures and essential oils to relieve pain. But, make sure you consult your doctor or a professional herbalist, because some herbs may interfere with medications you may take.
8. Sleep – Last, but not least, try to get enough sleep. In doing so, this will give your nerves and body time to relax, heal and balance. Extra sleep and rest will help rebuild and strengthen your nerves.
Even though these complementary and alternative remedies are not confirmed by scientific evidence, many people have experienced significant improvements, and have managed to control pain, spasms, numbness, and cramps.
If the symptoms and pain last longer than a few weeks, be sure to consult a doctor, as there is the possibility that you have a dislocated vertebrae, or some other condition that is causing pressure or pinching your nerves. If necessary, surgery is always an option.