Sciatica is a health condition that is used to describe nerve pain in your legs that is caused by irritation or the pressing of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica starts in your lower back, radiates deep it the buttocks and then the pain travels down your leg. You need to know about the sciatica symptoms & what causes sciatica pain, before you can find natural sciatica remedies.
What Is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve begins at your spinal cord, it goes through your hips and buttocks and goes down your leg. Sciatic nerve is your body’s biggest nerve and it plays a vital role. The sciatic nerve has the direct ability to control and feel your legs. Whenever the nerve is irritated or pressed upon, you’ll experience sciatica pain.
This is what is sciatica, it is a sensation that can grow into a moderate to a severe back pain. The Sciatica pain not only stays in the back, it moves onto the buttocks and legs. If you’re suffering from sciatica pain symptoms, then you may even feel numbness and weakness in these areas.
Sciatica is symptom in itself which can be caused by multiple reasons. Sciatica can be caused by an underlying injury to your sciatic nerve or to an area that irritates the nerve. According to a report, as much as 40% of population will suffer from sciatica pain at one point in their life.
There can be multiple sciatica causes, and the symptoms of sciatica are very distinct. If you have been experiencing a pain that follows you around from your lower back through your buttock and to your legs. Sciatica pain is the result of injury or the damage to your sciatic nerve. Other than the pain, there are multiple other sciatica symptoms:
- Your pain may worsen with movement.
- You may feel numbness or weakness in your legs and feet, which usually is felt along your sciatic nerve path. In severe sciatica cases, you may even experience a loss of feeling or movement in your legs.
- In some cases of sciatica, you may end up feeling the sensation of pins and needles in your back and legs. All this involves a painful tingling in your toes or feet.
You may even experience the inability to control your bladder or bowels. This is a rare symptom of sciatica but it can happen in some cases.
What are The Reasons Sciatic Nerve Pain?
Sciatica can be caused by several conditions that revolve around your spine and can affect the nerves including the sciatic nerve. It can also happen due to an injury, including falling or spinal or sciatic nerve tumors. Here are some of the most common causes of sciatica:
- Herniated Disks
Your vertebrae or spinal bones are separated from each other using pieces of cartilage. Cartilages are filled with a thick, clear material to make sure your bones stay flexible and they also provide cushioning while you perform any kind of physical activities. Herniated disks happen when the first layer of your cartilage rips or gets injured.
The clear thick material inside your cartilage can compress your sciatic nerve irritating it. Which can lead to lower limb pain and numbness. It is estimated that at least 1-5% people will have back pain once in their lives caused by herniated disk in their lives.
- Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is also called lumbar spinal stenosis, and it can be one of the reasons for sciatica pain. The spinal stenosis is distinguished by the abnormal narrowing of your spinal canal. This sudden narrowing of your spinal cord and on your sciatic nerve roots.
Spondylolisthesis is one of the conditions that can be connected with sciatica or degenerative disk disorder. When one spinal bone or vertebra, extends over another one then the currently extended spinal bone can pinch on some nerves including the sciatic nerve.
- Piriformis Syndrome
Another reason for sciatica is a rare neuromuscular disorder in which your piriformis muscle contracts or tightens which leads to the sciatic problem. Your piriformis muscle is a crucial muscle that connects the lower portion of your spine to your thighbones.
Whenever it tightens, it will put a lot of pressure on your sciatic nerve, leading to sciatica. Piriformis syndrome can grow worse over time if you end up sitting for longer periods of time, fall or experience any kind of back injury.
What are Some Risk Factors of Sciatica?
There are some activities or behaviors that can increase your risk for developing sciatica. Here are some of the most common risk factors for developing sciatica:
- Old Age
As your age grows, your body and muscles degenerate over time. It becomes highly likely that some parts of your body will wear or break down. Old age plays one of the biggest factors in causing sciatica.
- Career Choices
Certain careers demands a lot of sitting for a huge part of the day. If you are in a job that requires a lot of sitting can put strain on your back. Apart from that if you are in a job that involves lifting heavy objects, then it can be another risk factors for sciatica. If your career choices include sitting for extending periods, exercising or twisting movements then you need to think about switching your careers.
If you are suffering from diabetes then you are a much higher risk of developing sciatica once in your lifetime. Diabetes causes diabetic neuropathy, which causes severe nerve damage in your hands, legs and feet. All this causes similar symptoms in your legs to sciatica, but sciatic pain is only from damage or inflammation in the sciatic nerve.
Smoking is a huge risk factor for sciatica. Regular smoking can cause the outer layer of your spinal disks to break down. The damage grows over time and you may end up experiencing sciatica pain.
How to Diagnose Sciatica?
Sciatica is a health condition that varies from one person to another and the factors that can cause sciatica differs as well. To diagnose sciatica your doctor will ask for your complete medical history. This medical history also include whether or not you’ve had any recent injuries and accidents, where you feel the pain and how the pain feels. Your doctor would want to know what activities or habits eases the pain and what worsens the pain.
The next step in diagnosing sciatica is a physical exam that’ll include testing your muscle strength and reflexes. Your doctor will ask you to do some stretching and other physical exercises to find which activities more pain.
The next step of diagnosing sciatica is to examine how nerve impulses are conducted by your sciatica nerve and learn if there are any abnormalities. Imaging tests will allow your doctors to get a good look at your spine, which will help your doctors determine the reasons for your sciatica.
One of the most common imaging tests for determining sciatica and its causes are spinal X-rays, MRIs and CT scans. Normal X-rays will not be able to provide a conclusive view of sciatic nerve damage. If you don’t know already, MRI uses magnets and radio waves to provide the images of your back. A CT scan uses radiation to create a detailed image of your whole body.
What Are The Common Sciatica Treatment?
If you’re diagnosed with sciatica, your doctor will prescribe you a series of medication along with tips for treating your sciatica pain. You should continue your daily activities as much as you need, lying in bed and avoiding physical activities can worsen your conditions. Some of the most common home suggested at-home sciatica treatments are as follows:
- Cold Massage
You can purchase ice packs or you can even use a packet of frozen vegetables. What you want to do with an ice pack of frozen vegetables packet is to wrap it in a towel and apply it to the affected area for at least 20 minutes per day. Follow the same routine several times a day during the days of pain. This will also help in reducing swelling and pain on your back.
- Hot Massage
Just like Ice packs, you can buy hot packs or a heating pad. It is recommended that you use ice during first couple of days to reduce swelling. Once you see a visible effect on the swelling, switch to heat massage. If you keep feeling sciatic pain then you will have to alternate between ice and heat therapy.
Gently stretching your lower back can also be helpful. You can learn how to stretch properly by getting a personal one-on-one physical therapy or even try yoga instruction from a physical therapist. You need to keep following daily stretching practices in order to keep a check on your sciatica pain.
- Over-the-counter Medication
Over-the-counter medication like aspirin or ibuprofen can help in decreasing your pain, inflammation and swelling. You need to keep an eye out for how much medication you take as too much aspirin can cause health complications such as stomach bleeding and ulcers.
- Exercise Regularly
One of the most common ways of treating sciatica is to keep exercising regularly. When you exercise regularly, your body stays active and releases a lot of endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain relievers made by your body. Start off with low-impact activities at first, such as swimming.
As your pain decreases, your endurance improves. You can follow an exercise schedule that includes aerobics, core stability and basic strength training. A schedule containing all these components can decrease your risk of future back problems.
- Physical Therapy
Physical therapy exercises can help in improving your posture and strengthen your back muscles. If you can strengthen your back muscles then it can help in preventing sciatica overall or reduce the pain.
Another treatment for sciatica is surgery. While it is known that Surgery for sciatica is not usually successful, but in severe cases, surgery is required.
The two most common surgery types for sciatica are discectomy, in which a part of the disk that’s pressing on the sciatic nerve is removed. The second surgery is microdiscectomy, in which the disk removal process is done with a small cut as your doctor uses a microscope.
Home Remedies for Sciatica Pain
Most cases of sciatica pain may go away on their own in a few hours or days, but there are some cases that may go on for extended periods of time. Most sciatica cases can be solved with home remedies for sciatica, although there are some extreme cases in which symptoms interfere with your daily activities.
If you’re experiencing sciatica symptoms, then there are some home remedies for sciatica. Here are some of the best things you can try:
- Back Exercises
It’s against common sense to engage in physical activities when you’re experiencing back or leg pain. Although it is suggested that you try low-impact exercises like water aerobics, stationary biking and yoga can be an effective way to reduce the severity of sciatica pain from your home.
Stronger back muscles also support the spine and alleviate pressure on spinal nerves which can reduce frequency and intensity of sciatica episodes.
- Sit Up Straight
If you work at a desk or in a bent position for the day, you need to make sure you are sitting in the right posture. You should try to sit with your head aligned with your hips. It is also recommended to take quick breaks from sitting too long to get rid of strain on your spine.
- Ayurvedic Treatment
Another great method of getting rid of sciatica at home is by using ayurvedic remedies for sciatica. One great remedy that we could find with great results is SureShot Ayurveda. Based out of India, the company has shown incredible results in the field of ayurvedic remedies for sciatica pain. You can visit their website to get the needed medicinal treatment to get the relief from your problem. The best part about their medication is that it is made by a group of expert Ayurvedic practitioners, and the medicines bear no side effects.
Best Food To Eat For Sciatica
The causes of sciatica and back pain can vary from person to person. In other cases, the main causes of pain is inflammation even without disc compression. Even some anti-inflammatory medications are recommended in some cases of sciatica. That means, what you eat can also play a role in reducing inflammation in your body, here are the best foods to eat during sciatica:
Pineapple contains a substance called bromelain, it is an enzyme known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The enzyme has huge anti-inflammatory effects including swelling in sinusitis, sore throat and arthritis. Pineapple enzymes have been known to treat arthritis and tissue repair. People suffering from symptoms of sciatica can include pineapple in their diet.
Parsley contains a certain compound known as flavonoids that are found highly in fruits, nuts, seeds and plants. Flavonoids have multiple health benefits including the ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Apigenin is one of the main flavonoids found in parsley and is known to reduce inflammation in lupus and arthritis. Include parsley in your diet along with moderate exercise and you can prevent sciatica pain.
Celery is also full of anti-inflammatory flavonoid apigenin. In addition, celery contains high fiber value and is extremely low in calories, fat and cholesterol. Celery is also very good source of folate, potassium, vitamins B, Vitamin C, & Vitamin A.
Onions contains quercetin, which is a highly potent anti-inflammatory agent. If you add more and more onions into your diet, then it can help in your sciatica back pain. Adding more onions in your diet is incredibly simple and it can be prepared in multiple ways.
Broccoli is a part of cruciferous family of vegetables and broccoli is a close relative of Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. A major component of broccoli is known to have incredible anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. If you include broccoli in your diet with regular exercise then you can reduce the effects of sciatica.