It's a painful condition that can be difficult to deal with, but there are natural and effective ways to treat sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It runs from the spinal cord, through the buttock, and down the back of the leg. Sciatica is characterized by pain running along this nerve, and it is caused by pressure at the nerve root or muscle spasms pushing on the nerve. Sciatica symptoms include shooting pain, burning pain, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in the legs, foot or toes, muscle spasms, and decreased reflexes in the knees and ankles. The list of symptoms is quite long, and having known people who have had sciatica, I can tell you it is a miserable condition to have. However, there are ways to treat sciatica, including the nonprescription methods that I am going to discuss.
1. Lavender Oil
Using lavender oil is one of the natural ways to treat sciatica. Lavender oil has antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve the pain caused by sciatica. It can be especially helpful if the pain is coming from a muscle spasm. Putting lavender oil in a bath or massaging it into the painful area are two of the best ways to use lavender oil for sciatic pain. It may smell good and be relaxing, but if you want the oil to help your pain you need it to get into the muscles.
2. Chamomile Oil
Chamomile oil is another great essential oil that can be used for sciatica. It is good for neuralgia and inflammation, and it calms the nervous system. This is especially helpful for sciatic pain since it originates in the nerve. Chamomile oil can be used as a compress, or it can be massaged into the painful area to relieve irritation. When using chamomile oil try it on a small area first, because it can cause contact dermatitis in some people.
Saffron is an expensive spice that is used most often in cooking. However, it has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat neuralgia. It also has been used since ancient times to treat pain of any kind. It can be used on food or in tea. You can also buy saffron oil and massage it into the painful area.
4. St. John’s Wort
You may have heard of St. John’s Wort being very effective at treating depression, and, indeed, it is. It is also extremely helpful for pain conditions. It can relieve both muscle pain and nerve pain, making it a great choice for sciatica. St. John’s Wort is very easy to find as most drug stores carry it. I would highly recommend trying this herb if you have sciatic pain because it has been shown to be a very effective pain reliever.
Acupuncture is a modality that has been shown to be very helpful for sciatic pain. When you see an acupuncturist for sciatica, or any ailment for that matter, he or she will try to restore imbalances in your body. The goal is to unblock qi and blood channels to restore balance. According to acupuncturists, sciatica usually comes from imbalances in the kidney, liver, or spleen. I realize this may sound unusual to some of you, but, even though it is different, studies have shown acupuncture to be quite beneficial for pain conditions like sciatica.
It is always nice to have a relaxing massage for a day of indulgence. However, massages are not just limited to spa days. Massage can be very effective for relieving pain caused by sciatica, especially if the pain is due to a muscle spasm or knot. Tight muscles pushing along the sciatic nerve will cause sciatic pain, which will only be relieved when the muscles release. My only word of advice when getting a massage is to drink a lot of water and have an Epsom salt bath after the massage. This will help your body get rid of the toxins that were released during the massage.
7. Doctor of Osteopathy
Osteopathic doctors are becoming quite common. Often, you will find them practicing as family doctors. Osteopaths who are practice manual therapy can be very helpful when you have sciatica. They will do a thorough musculoskeletal examination to find the underlying cause of the pain so they can correct it. They use gentle manipulations to correct the structural problems that created the pain. Having seen osteopaths for pain conditions, I can testify to the effectiveness of osteopathic treatment. It is definitely worth trying if you have sciatica.
Sciatica can be a very painful and debilitating condition. However, it is treatable and is usually resolved relatively quickly. All of these treatments have been shown to help sciatic pain, and they are great alternatives to prescription treatment. Have you ever had sciatica?
Shealy, C. Norman. Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies. London: HarperCollins, 2002. Print