Sciatica pain is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve is known as the largest in our body, beginning in the spinal cord and extending down the lower back to the buttocks.
This condition can develop to an unbearable pain which can affect the entire leg. To make matters worse, it can be chronic and repetitive, hindering you and stopping you from carrying out day-to-day life.
There are different treatments for sciatica and your choice should depend on its severity.
Some people immediately seek expensive medical procedures to combat the pain. But people who know better know that they can save themselves prohibitive costs by treating sciatica naturally.
Where Do you Feel Sciatica Pain?
It mostly affects the lower back and thigh area. It may radiate below the knee, depending on severity.
Causes of Sciatica Pain
It is important to know what is causing your Sciatica pain, so that you can treat it most effectively.
- Slipped disc – This happens when the inner material of the disk leaks.
- Degenerative disc disease – This commonly happens when we age.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis – This is a stress fracture that happens when one vertebral body slips on another.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – This occurs when the spinal canal narrows.
- Piriformis syndrome – This happens when the sciatic nerve is irritated.
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction – Known as the irritation of sacroiliac joint.
Note that the last 2 are not exactly a real radiculopathy or sciatica, but the pain is very similar.
Other Causes of Sciatica Pain
Apart from the above causes, there are conditions which may lead to sciatica pain.
- Fracture – Often, fractures happen due to trauma like a car crash. In some cases, it may happen due to weak bones or a specific health condition like osteoporosis.
- Spinal Tumor – Spinal tumors often lead to cancer.
- Muscle Strain – A muscle spasm or strain may put pressure on the nerve root, a known cause of sciatica pain.
- Pregnancy – If you are pregnant, your body will change. This may include additional weight and hormonal changes. Because of these, sciatica may occur.
- Scar Tissue – This is sometimes called epidural fibrosis.
- Infection – This is not a common cause of sciatica and unlikely to happen. However, nothing is impossible.
How to Diagnose Sciatica
It is always the best to check with a spinal specialist to identify your condition. You will be asked multiple questions before undergoing physical and neurological examinations. Here are some questions you need to answer.
- When did the pain first occur?
- Where exactly do you feel your pain?
- How would you rate the pain? Use a scale of 1 -10.
- Is there a tingling feeling in your legs and feet?
- Do you take any medications?
- Do you do any exercises?
- What worsens your pain?
Your posture and movement will be observed and the doctor will examine your spine.
Your reflexes and muscle strength will be tested.
To further check your condition and to properly identify the cause, you may need to have a number of Imaging Tests. An x-ray and a CT scan may be recommended.
Naturally Treating Sciatica
If you are in pain, you do not have to resort to medications straight away. There are natural ways to fight it off. But of course, if the pain becomes unbearable, medications will work best.
Sciatica may be caused by many things – old age, stress, excess weight, and even mental stress. These things can cause inflammation and make it harder to recover from injuries or pain. To heal quickly, you should prevent inflammation by doing enough exercise and getting a good sleep. Additionally, you should quit smoking and say goodbye to recreational drugs.
Get Heating Pads
Just use heating pads for 20 minutes a day to relieve the pain. ou can do this throughout the day and in the comforts of your home, or even in the office. Another great option is taking a hot bath. This will loosen the muscles and can promote good blood circulation.
On the other hand, some people love to use ice packs to combat the pain. They do this for at least 10 minutes every 2 hours. If the pain doesn’t reduce using this method, you should seek a professional for medications that will improve your condition.
Avoid Sitting a Lot
Even if you are at home or at work, it is important that you move around. Avoid sitting for long periods of time. You need to stretch and move those limbs!
Have you heard of any simple exercises or stretches which you can do in the office, or while watching your favorite TV series at home? Do them daily. Remember, prolonged sitting can aggravate your condition.
Most of us are familiar with acupuncture, right? It opens the natural flow of our body by using tiny needles. You shouldn’t get intimidated because these needles are almost painless. Acupuncture has been approved by the FDA as an effective remedy for back pains.
Some movements can be bad for our back and can aggravate the pain. Nevertheless, some, like yoga, are extremely beneficial. Performing yoga may relieve the pain and can even improve your posture, however you should seek out a class run by a professional to make sure you acheive the correct positions which won’t harm you further.
Best Foods to Cure Sciatica
It is also essential that you maintain a proper diet to treat your condition. Here are some of the best foods you should include in your diet.
- Green tea
- Green peas
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grain fortified cereals
- Unpolished legumes and rice
- Fortified margarine
Again, as a rule of thumb, consult your doctor first so you can avoid any complications.