Sciatic nerve is a large peripheral nerve that exits from the spinal cord in the lower back region and runs down to the hips, thighs and legs. It has a major role to play in transmission of signals from the brain to the leg muscles, and it also carries information related to sensations from them back to the brain. When this vital nerve of the body gets inflamed, it leads to an extremely painful condition known as sciatica.
Causes and Symptoms of Sciatic Nerve Problems
In most patients it has been found that inflammation occurs in the sciatic nerve when it is pinched at its exit point in the lower back region, due to a slipped disc. This happens if a ruptured cartilage disc of lower part of the spinal column, protrudes out and starts exerting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Other common problems, like arthritis and ligament sprain, often inflame the hip joint and the passage of sciatic nerve is constricted. As a result, the nerve gets trapped in this area. Sometimes, the nerve could be pressed by an abscess, tumor or blood clot. However, such cases are quite rare.
Sciatica pain can be a frightening experience because it is not just confined to the lower back area, but can extend up to the legs. Its characteristics are listed as under.
- Shooting pain in the muscles that originates in the buttock area and moves down to the legs. This pain is experienced on one leg and one side of the buttock only.
- The pain tends to aggravate when the patient tries to sit down or stand up.
- Tingling, numbness, and weakness is felt in the thigh and leg.
- Muscle cramps and a burning sensation in the thighs.
Remedies to Heal Sciatic Nerve Pain
The medicinal treatment for sciatic nerve mainly involves the use of anti-inflammatory medicines, muscle relaxers, and steroid injections to control the painful symptoms. These medicines need to be continued for a few weeks. Some serious patients may have to be under medication for several months. When these medicines are used for a long time, they have an adverse effect on the patient's health. For this reason, people prefer to relieve sciatica pain without using these medicines. A few helpful remedies that can be used for this purpose are as follows.
This is one of the most popular traditional remedy for pain relief that reduces nerve inflammation and alleviates pain. It should start within the first 48 hours when the pain is at its peak. Place an ice pack on the painful spot. Alternately, you can opt for ice massage. The duration of ice application should be 10 minutes or until numbness is felt in the area. As it goes numb, remove the ice but repeat it several times in a day after a gap of one hour or so.
Provide Rest to Your Back
You have to allow your back to rest in order to get relief from the nerve pain. That does not mean you need bed rest. Try to sleep for at least 8-9 hours at night. While sleeping, avoid lying on your back. Rather, a curled fetal position with a pillow placed in between the legs is better as it eases off the pressure from the lower back. During the day, take small breaks to relax your back for few minutes from time to time.
Once the intensity of the pain decreases with ice therapy, start applying heat in the area. This improves blood circulation in the region, and thus ensures faster healing of the damaged nerve tissues. Use a hot water bottle or heating pad for heat application. Continue with the cold therapy alternately along with the heat therapy.
You can visit an experienced chiropractor to cure sciatic nerve pain. They realign the spine by manipulating the joints with the help of a manual technique, where sudden force is applied to the area in a controlled manner. This brings a marked improvement in the range of motion of the spine. It may require one or more sessions. After each session, you have to keep the back at rest as per the guidelines provided by the professional.
Your chiropractor may recommend a massage therapy soon after the manipulation. This will release the tension from the back muscles by improving the blood flow. It also makes the muscles strong and flexible.
When the pain due to sciatic nerve subsides, do some gentle stretching exercises. Such stretches are beneficial because the pressure from the sciatic nerve is eliminated and the pain decreases quickly. While doing the exercises, your focus should be on stretching up of both back muscles as well as abdominal muscles. Walking, swimming, and cycling are a few simple exercise options available with you in this condition.
Garlic has excellent antioxidant properties that promote blood circulation and provides relief from pain. Crush 2-3 fresh garlic cloves, mix it with half cup of warm buffalo milk and have it. It should be taken twice a day for a week to reduce the intensity of a severe sciatic nerve pain. Celery juice possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can bring down the inflammation in the nerve roots. Extract fresh juice from celery leaves and drink it once daily.
This is an alternative method of treatment which is highly effective on sciatica. Here, small metallic needles are inserted into the skin at specific pressure points for pain relief. It helps to get rid of the numbness and improve nerve sensation. It should be done by qualified professionals only.
When you start the treatment on time, it will take at least 2-4 weeks before the pain and discomfort subsides completely. In those cases where the treatment was delayed, it may take 1 or 2 months. However, if the pain of sciatic nerve refuses to go after 12 weeks, then it is likely that the nerve has suffered a serious damage and you must consult a doctor. Any major damage may have to be repaired by surgical operation.