The sciatic nerve is the longest in the body, running from each side of the lower spine through the buttock, into the back of the thigh and all the way down to the foot (1). If the nerve becomes constricted, you may experience tingling, numbness, or sharp pain in your back and legs. Approximately forty percent of people on the planet experience sciatic pain at some point in their lives, whether due to sports injury, a motor vehicle accident, a fall, tumor, or some other causes (2).
The six most common causes of sciatic pain are:
- bulging or herniated disc (3)
- lumbar spinal stenosis
- spondylolisthesis (4)
- piriformis syndrome
- spinal tumors
Before resorting to harsh painkillers or corrective surgery to alleviate your pain, try the right natural remedies below.
In ancient Chinese acupuncture practice, hair-fine needles are inserted in various points of the body, most often including the foot, where energy meridians are centered. The needles are meant to open stuck energy pathways, stimulating blood and lymph flow throughout the body.
This form of therapy has been found to be very effective in treating back pain, including sciatica. It’s believed that acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system to release feel-good hormones.
See also: sciatica stretches
2. Massage Therapy
A licensed massage therapist understands human anatomy in ways few other health practitioners do. There are many therapeutic techniques in their tool boxes and they adjust their treatment to be tailored to your needs.
3. Chiropractic Adjustment
It was found in a 2010 study published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy that “sixty percent of patients with sciatica who had failed other medical management benefited from spinal manipulation to the same degree as if they underwent surgical intervention.” (6).
Manipulating the spine can relieve pain, improve mobility, and reduce inflammation. Just make sure to consult a board certified chiropractor to avoid injury or malpractice.
4. Herbs and Oils
There are many herbs and essential oils that can relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and offer general soothing. If you are taking any medication of any kind—including herbal or natural supplements or if you suffer from a serious medical condition, consult your healthcare provider or naturopath before taking something new. Herbs can be taken as a tea, eaten with foods, or swallowed as a capsule. Following is a list of herbs known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve sciatica pain.
- Devil’s claw
- Jamaican dogwood
- Roman chamomile
- Clary Sage
- Linden flower
- Milky oat tops
- St. John’s wort
- White willow bark
5. Ice Packs
A cold pack applied to the area of pain can reduce inflammation, thus relieving pain. It’s most effective when pain is worst, usually two to seven days after the onset of sciatica (7).
6. Alternate Cold and Hot
Alternating between hot and cold compresses on your lower will stimulate blood and lymph flow, relieving pain and giving your body a break.
You can also use hydrotherapy by taking a hot bath with Epsom salt and soothing essential oils to open up your blood and lymph vessels and follow up with an ice-cold shower to close them back up (8).
Depending on the restriction of movement and intensity of pain, gentle stretching can help loosen the constricted muscles. Initially, stretching may be difficult and painful, but gently work through it and you’ll gain ease of movement and a reduction in pain.
Sleep is the foundation for good health. When you aren’t sleeping well, your body has to work especially hard to heal whatever is out of balance. To help you sleep, take a soothing bath before bed, drink chamomile tea, and massage your feet.
With the easy tips above, your sciatica will quickly subside and you’ll finally feel better.