Sciatic nerve pain is caused when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched or irritated via disc compression, which results in pain. The symptoms of sciatica vary, but more common symptoms include pain, weakness in the legs, tingling and difficulty sitting. Causes of sciatic pain stem from a herniated disc, a condition in which part of a disc protrudes, thus putting pressure on the nerve; piriformis syndrome, a quite common disorder that causes sciatic type pain due to the piriformis muscles becoming tight; and sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction, which can cause sciatic-type pain.
Avoid activities that aggravate your sciatic pain, such as sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time. When we sit, 50 percent of our body weight is placed on our lumbar spine. Therefore, it's essential to have a seating arrangement that meets your needs. Avoid chairs that are hard or have little padding. Standing with sciatic pain can be problematic. If you have to stand for an extended period of time, try and alternate placing one foot up to help keep your back relaxed and take some pressure off your lumbar spine.
Body Movement Therapy
Try Feldenkrais Massage Therapy, reflexology, Viniyoga or the Alexander Technique. Feldenkrais Massage stresses "awareness of movement," which is based on the theory that we can actively help to heal our own mechanical problems by reteaching our bodies how to stand and sit properly. Reflexology works by alleviating pain via reflex points in the feet. Viniyoga, which is a form of Hatha Yoga, condones relaxation over achieving perfect form. Viniyoga can help relieve sciatic pain through the combined therapeutic effect of gentle stretching exercises and mental clarity. And the Alexander Technique assists individuals in identifying the coordination habits they have accumulated throughout their lifetime and might be contributing to sciatic pain.
Try and wear more comfortable shoes. Avoid hard-soled shoes, which can cause a compressive effect on the spine and aggravate sciatic pain. Look for cushioned, well-padded shoes that offer good support.
Acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old element of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been used for centuries as an effective pain reliever. Acupuncture can help alleviate sciatic pain by blocking the signal of pain as it travels to the brain and help to promote the body's healing defenses.
Consider homeopathic remedies. Colocynthis is used for symptoms that worsen in cold or drafts and during movement. Ferrum Metallicum is applied for symptoms that lessen with gentle movement or upon walking. Try Kalium carbonicum for symptoms that worsen when lying on the affected side. Hypericum perforatum is used for symptoms that generally worsen in cold, damp weather.
Supplementing anti-inflammatory herbs such as Devil's claw, soy, and white willow bark into your diet can help alleviate many of the painful symptoms associated with sciatica. It's recommended supplementing approximately 50 to 100mg of Devil's claw per day, 25mg of soy protein, and 200 to 300mg of white willow bark.
Try swimming to relieve sciatic pain. Swimming creates a nearly weightless environment, which takes pressure off of our joints and can help to decompress the spine.
Consider purchasing a new mattress. Sciatic pain can be aggravated by a too-soft mattress that doesn't offer enough support. A good mattress should feel firm and supportive but not hard.
If you smoke, consider quitting. It's theorized that smoking causes a decrease in circulation and oxygen in the tissues of the spine, which can contribute to an overall degeneration of the spine and can contribute to pain.
TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, works on a principle similar to that of acupuncture. TENS helps the brain to focus on the massage action and electrical stimulation of the low voltage produced by a TENS unit to subsequently help to reduce pain.