What Causes Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body, travels from the lower back all the way down the body, crossing the buttocks, leg and calf and ending at the foot. Pressure on this nerve can lead to a shooting pain, often felt in the leg or foot. Lower back pain and numbness or tingling in the foot and leg are also common characteristics.
Sciatica is not actually a condition in itself, but a sign of something else. In many cases it is a herniated disc protruding from the spine that is putting pressure on the nerve. Poor posture, obesity, pregnancy, poor muscle tone and exhausted pituitary and adrenal glands can all be contributing factors as well.
Using natural treatments should be enough to remedy mild sciatica. As it is possible that the cause of the nerve pain is something serious, such as trauma or the development of a spinal tumor, it is very important to see your doctor if self-care doesn't bring relief, if the pain is severe or if there is a loss of bladder or bowel control. You can also talk to your doctor about using alternative therapies, such as chiropractic medicine and acupuncture, to treat the nerve.
Nutritional Needs for Sciatica
To help relieve sciatica, it is important to eat a healthy diet that is rich in minerals for nerve health, such as calcium and magnesium. Iodine is also important for thyroid health. Include a daily green salad in your diet and eat plenty of sea greens, tofu, green vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Try to minimize the consumption of caffeine, refined sugars and chocolate.
Plenty of essential fatty acids in the diet are also important for healthy nerves. Seafood, eggs and nuts are good food sources. Also consider supplementing with fish oil, flax seed oil or evening primrose oil. The B complex vitamins and vitamin C with bioflavonoids are also helpful for rebuilding nerves and connective tissue. Whole grains, eggs, wheat germ and brewer's yeast are high in B vitamins, while vitamin C and bioflavonoids can be found in berries and citrus fruits. You can also talk to your doctor about taking supplements.
Natural Solutions for Relief
There are a number of methods that you can use to ease pain at home:
- Alternate between ice packs and heating pads on painful area.
- Daily stretching and gentle yoga exercises.
- Soak in a hot bath with one cup of epsom salts.
- Mix ten drops each of rosemary essential oil and wintergreen essential oil into two ounces of jojoba, apricot or grape seed oil and massage into the legs and lower back.
Once the sciatica pain has subsided it is important to increase your activity level if you are generally sedentary. This will help to prevent future problems. Do daily sit-ups to strengthen lower abdominal muscles. Make sure you are walking regularly. Gentle activities such as swimming and yoga are excellent. If you do sit all day for work, be sure to get up frequently and do some stretches or walk around. Wear comfortable shoes.
Alternative Medicine Options
Aside from diet and natural home care, alternative treatments for sciatica are beneficial for healing and pain relief. An experienced chiropractor can help to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve through spinal manipulation. Chiropractic medicine is known to be very effective for common problems such as sciatica and lower back pain. A chiropractor may also recommend diet and lifestyle changes to improve your well-being. They may also recommend a visit with your medical doctor if they are concerned that surgery may be necessary.
Another alternative option to the use of medications for pain relief is acupuncture. The World Health Organization lists sciatica as one of the symptoms, diseases or conditions that can be effectively treated with acupuncture. According to the British Acupuncture Council, this therapy can help by stimulating nerves to alter the experience of pain, reducing inflammation, increasing joint mobility, promoting repair of the sciatic nerve and increasing circulation to the nerve root.
Sciatica can be a very uncomfortable problem to deal with and it can also be a sign that it is time to address well-being. Include plenty of nutrients in your diet to help repair and rebuild. Use safe, home remedies for fast pain relief and comfort. See your doctor if necessary and consider alternative treatments such as chiropractic medicine, massage and acupuncture for long-term relief.
World Health Organization. https://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js4926e/5.html
British Acupuncture Council. https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/research-fact-sheets/1138-acupuncture-and-sciatica.html
Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Page, Linda. "Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition" (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
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