Sciatica is a painful condition which affects many people.
The condition is highlighted by pain and numbness which radiates down the leg, often below the knee.
According to the Harvard School of Medicine, nine out of ten cases of sciatica are due to a displacement of a disc in the lower back. 
What is the sciatic nerve?
The sciatic nerve is a large nerve which runs from the lower end of the spine down the back of the thigh and it divides right above the knee joint. The function of the sciatic nerve is to innervate the skin of the foot, as well as the entire lower leg, but not the medial side.
What are the symptoms of sciatic pain?
Pain is the main symptom of sciatic nerve injury or inflammation. Sciatic pain feels like a burning, tingling or stabbing running down a person’s leg. The constant pain can cause numbness or weakness in the leg. Sciatic pain can also occur in the lower back and it can become worse if a person makes any sudden movements.
What causes sciatic nerve pain?
There are many conditions that can lead a person to experience sciatic nerve pain, such as the following:
- Spinal stenosis: This is a condition which involves narrowing of the canal which contains the spinal cord and it causes nerve compression and severe pain.
- Arthritis: Arthritis in the vertebral discs can lead to compression of the sciatic nerve and cause pain.
- Spinal neoplasms: Spinal neoplasms are cancers which occur within the spinal nerve and it results in extra pressure being placed on the roots of the sciatic nerve.
- Spinal injury: An injury that impacts the spine can lead to damaging the sciatic nerve.
- Muscle spasms
- Disc disorders
- Muscle imbalance
See also: sciatica stretches
How can a person alleviate sciatica pain naturally?
People who experience sciatica pain may want to explore natural ways to alleviate the pain, rather than resorting to the last possible option of surgery. The following examples are good ways to relieve the intense pain caused by an irritated sciatic nerve:
- Magnesium and bromelain supplements: One effective ways of treating sciatica pain is through taking magnesium and bromelain supplements.  Magnesium helps at keeping the muscles from becoming swollen, while bromelain helps to alleviate inflammation.
- Stretching exercises: Some people will find relief from sciatic pain from doing light stretching exercises. According to the Mayo Clinic, gentle stretching exercises can help relieve nerve root compression and a person should avoid jerking or twisting while stretching. 
- Heat and cold applications: Applying heat and cold applications to the back intermittently can reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Use a cold pack on the area for 20 minutes at a time and several times per day. Hot packs are best used after two or three days and should be applied to the area in pain. A person can use hot packs, a heating pad or a heat lamp on the lowest setting. If pain still persists, it is a good idea to alternate between warm and cold packs until relief is achieved.
- Massage therapy: The use of massage therapy can be very effective to relieve sciatic pain. An experienced massage therapist can possibly provide welcome relief of the leg pain due to sciatic nerve injury or inflammation. Massage therapy is helpful because it promotes circulation and better healing, which can reduce the pain someone has from sciatica.
- Chiropractic care: For a lot of people, sciatica pain responds well to chiropractic care. Using chiropractic services can help in treating the symptoms of sciatica pain, but it will not address the underlying cause of the problem. The goal of chiropractic care is to restore spinal movement, to decrease pain and reduce inflammation. The type of chiropractic care used to improve sciatica pain may include; rehabilitative exercises, ultrasound, hot and cold therapy, ultrasound, spinal adjustments and TENS.
While it is not always possible to prevent sciatica, there are things a person can do to help alleviate the pain and improve overall spine health. It is important to engage in regular exercise, maintain proper posture and to use good body mechanics, in order to help ward off sciatic pain.
If sciatic pain becomes too much and natural methods to alleviate the pain are not successful, it is very important to consult with your doctor for follow up and to discuss possible treatment options.