Sciatica is a condition characterized by nerve pain in the hip and pelvic area extending down the legs. Sciatic nerve pain occurs when the sciatic nerve is pressed on or pinched by surrounding muscles and tissues.
The sciatic nerve is responsible for controlling the thighs, legs, and lower back muscles. When this nerve becomes irritated, pain radiates through the body and leads to weakness, numbness, and tingling. While the sciatic nerve can heal on its own, if nothing is done and you continue with your activities, it can lead to permanent damage.
What Causes Sciatic Nerve Pain?
Sciatica can occur as a result of pre-existing conditions such as a herniated disc, a bone spur, or lumbar spinal stenosis. These conditions can impact the lower back where the sciatic nerve is located and cause contractions which pinch the sciatic nerve.
Another cause of sciatic nerve pain is old age. As you age, your body may become weaker and more susceptible to conditions such as sciatica. While it is natural, the pain can still be relieved by chiropractic care.
Injury to the pelvis, thigh, or buttocks can also induce sciatic nerve pain. When the muscles near the sciatic nerve experience trauma, the sciatic nerve will become irritated because of the pressure from the swollen muscles around it.
Sciatica pain varies from case to case. Some people have sciatica pain, which can go away with rest and simple exercise while others require treatment. It is important to visit a professional to determine the severity of your sciatic nerve pain.
Remember that surgery is not the only option to relieve the pain. Chiropractors can offer alternative ways to help through stretching, exercises, and massage techniques. Surgery may not be required at all if you follow their advice and take care of your body.
How to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain
One treatment for sciatic nerve pain is heat and ice therapy. This therapy helps reduce swelling and redness as well as promoting healing. The cold compress will reduce the swelling and redness while the heat will increase blood flow, allowing the body to heal faster because of the increase of oxygen to the area.
Also, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs can help reduce inflammation and control pain. If these medications don’t work, talk to your physician about taking prescribed muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, narcotics, anti-depressants, or anti-seizure medications, as these provide immediate sciatica pain relief.
Muscle relaxers are particularly helpful for sciatic nerve pain because muscle irritation is one of the most common causes of sciatica.
Before turning to medication or surgery, try light exercise and stretching to loosen the muscles and reintroduce the body to activity. A few light exercises and sciatica stretches can help relieve pain, try these at home:
- Knee to Opposite Shoulder
This stretch relieves sciatica pain by targeting the gluteal and piriformis muscles.
The piriformis muscle helps the hip rotate, it’s the small muscle located behind the gluteus maximus in the buttock. Loosening these muscles will reduce sciatic nerve pain.
First, lie flat on your back with your legs straight in front of you, and your feet flexed upward. Bend the left leg and pull it toward your chest. Rotate your body to the right so that the left knee touches the right shoulder. Repeat on the other side, three reps per leg, and you should feel the stretch in your glutes.
This stretch relieves sciatic nerve pain by making open space in the spinal canal to relieve the pressure that is pinching the sciatic nerve.
Sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you. While bending the knee, lift the left leg over the right leg and place the foot on the ground on the outer side of the right leg. Take your right arm, bent at the elbow, and place it on the outside of the left knee, to guide the body, and rotate to the left. Repeat on the opposite side.