Wow! That Smarts! The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body, so it makes sense that it is common for people to experience sciatic nerve pain. Many mechanical back or hip conditions can put pressure on the sciatic nerve or one of the nerves connected to it, which can affect a few of the many important functions that are carried out by the lumbar spine and pelvis. For instance, the piriformis muscle is involved in nearly every function of the hips, which are integral when it comes to balance, joint stabilization and movement of the lower body.(1) (2)
Pinched Sciatic Nerve Causes
While pressure on the low back and inflammation of the sciatic nerve are often symptoms that become more prevalent with increasing age, sciatica can be caused and worsened by many other health conditons. Some of the causes of sciatica include: (4)
- Repetitive Motion - Activities like computer use, running, and weight lifting can irritate the muscles and cause inflammation
- Bulging or Herniated Disc
- The sciatic nerve can become pinched when it is directly compressed between ligaments, tendons, and bones
- Pregnancy - Sometimes the position of the fetus or the shape of your uterus can press on the sciatic nerve and cause pain
- Weight - Being overweight or obese can put additional stress on muscles and cause inflammation
- Shoe support - poor arch support for those with flat feet.
Because sciatica has a number of different causes, a treatment that may be appropriate for one person may not be as effective for someone else. Many people assume that they can self-treat sciatica, but without a proper diagnosis from a health professional, they will most likely do more harm than they will good. Because the sciatic nerve is deep, the inflammation is typically also deep rather than a surface-level part of the anatomy. While many people turn to the use of pain pills, steroid injections, or even surgery to alleviate their pain, studies show that non-surgical and natural alternatives are just as effective. Some holistic and natural treatments for sciatica include: (5)
Pinched Sciatic Nerve Treatments
- Alternating between hot and cold compresses - Using heat to relax muscle spasm that may be compressing the sciatic nerve and ice pack to act as a natural anti-inflammatory and to numb the area of pain are easy and inexpensive ways to alleviate sciatic pain
- Deep tissue massage therapy applies slow, firm pressure to the affected area, which allows for the manipulation of the deep layers of tissue in the body
- Stretching exercises - Certain stretches can return a patient’s range of motion and decrease painful symptoms along the sciatic nerve. Stretches including the reclining pigeon pose or the sitting spinal stretch help to externally rotate the hip to provide some relief. These targeted lower back exercises can not only reduce pain, but improve posture, spinal ability and balance as well.
- AO Chiropractic treatment - Seeking out a chiropractic physician's diagnosis for sciatica is an smart way to receive non-invasive, gentle treatment. (6)
For more information about Pragle Chiropractic And Massage Therapy, or to book a free consult with Dr. Eric, please visit www.praglechiro.com.