Sciatica is a condition that causes pain, numbness, or tingling in the lower back, hips, legs, and feet. It occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back through the hips and down each leg, is compressed or irritated.
In this blog post, we'll explore five home remedies that can be used to manage the pain and discomfort of sciatica. These remedies are natural, inexpensive, and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. By trying these remedies, you may be able to reduce your reliance on medications or invasive treatments and enjoy greater comfort and mobility.
1. Keep moving when you can
Switching between periods of rest and movement can be really helpful for those suffering with sciatica. Movement will prevent the surrounding tissues from tightening and causing long-term issues and also helps to promote blood flow, which is needed for recovery. However, it is possible to overdo things so listen to your body a bit as a bit of discomfort and even short periods of pain is acceptable but you shouldn’t be trying to keep pushing through agonising pain all day long.
2. ‘Floss’ your sciatic nerve
Nerves do not like being stretched! A way of getting them to free up is through something called nerve flossing, also known as nerve gliding, as this moves the nerve along its pathway without stretching it.
This is an exercise where you switch between a position where the nerve is being tensioned at the spinal cord end (tucking the chin) and de-tensioning the leg (bending the knee and pointing the toes) and the opposite, where the nerve is de-tensioned at the spinal cord end (looking up at the ceiling) and tensioned at the leg (straightening the leg and flexing the foot upwards).
When the nerve is really compressed, you may have to alter this exercise so that you do not reach the two points of extreme and instead you just work within a comfortable range as this exercise is not designed to be painful.
3. Decompress your back
Many cases of sciatica are caused by lumbar disc prolapses/herniations/bulges, which are aggravated by load. Decompressing the back can help give you temporary periods of relief when you are really struggling. Some ways of doing this may be hanging from a bar, pushing up on a sideboard to take some weight out of the legs or using an insertion table if you are lucky enough to have access to one.
Another great way to decompress the back in the case of sciatica caused by disc herniations is a backbend pose in yoga, called a Sphinx. To perform this exercise you should lay on your front, elbows below shoulders and arms parallel to each other, with hips on the floor to create a slight back bend. It is best to hold this for 10-30 seconds at a time and should be relieving, if it causes more pain, you should stop. It is important to understand that some causes of sciatica, such as facet joint irritation, may be made worse by extension and therefore Sphinx pose, so do not push through the pain with this one.
4. Ice MAY be helpful
In the early stages of any injury, your body will produce inflammation to heal the area. However, in many cases of sciatica, the inflammation acts as an irritant to the nerve, giving you the symptoms of pain, pins and needles, numbness or weakness down the leg. If there is a marked level of swelling, say in your lower back, then icing may be beneficial to take down any ‘excess inflammation’.
You can ice the area once an hour for 15 minutes at a time, remembering that this may disrupt the healing process if overdone.
5. Lighten the load
The source of a lot of sciatica is found in the lower back. Any issues with the discs, joints and muscles here can be made worse with load, which may aggravate your sciatica. Trying to make sure you try not to lift anything too heavy while you are recovering can help things heal quicker. For example, making multiple trips to the house with your shopping, rather than trying to lift everything in one go.
Managing sciatica can be challenging, but incorporating these five home remedies can make a significant difference in reducing pain and discomfort. By incorporating natural remedies into your daily routine, you can alleviate symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.
However, it's important to remember that while these remedies are effective, they should not be a substitute for medical treatment. If your symptoms persist or worsen, be sure to seek advice from a medical professional. Here at SoCo Therapies, we have a range of practitioners, such as Osteopaths and Chiropractors who are well-versed in treating sciatica.
Don't let sciatica hold you back any longer. Give these remedies a try and see how they can help alleviate your symptoms. Start incorporating them into your daily routine today, and take the first step towards a more pain-free life.