Sciatica is a sharp pain that happens when your sciatic nerve is inflamed or irritated, which is usually not because of injury on the nerve itself but the associated areas. This nerve is a large branch of the nervous system that begins from your lower back and runs to your buttocks and down to either leg. It’s an essential part of the human anatomy, as it supplies movement and sensation to the feet, thighs, and legs.
Sciatica is said to afflict anywhere from 1-10% of the world population, with an age range of 25 to 45 years. This means the causes of this disorder vary and are not limited to lifestyle, economic factors, diet, ethnicity, and locale. In Lehi, back pain treatment usually involves medicines (including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and anesthetics), bed rest, or posture correction. Other complementary approaches include chiropractic sessions and natural (i.e., plant-based or organic) supplements.
Other than these treatments, sufferers of sciatica often turn ways for instant pain relief until they can see a specialist. Here are a few simple ones:
Over-the-counter (OTC) Drugs
NSAIDs work well for sciatic nerve pain. Fortunately, most drugs of this class can be purchased over-the-counter (that is, without prescription from a doctor). Brand name examples of NSAIDs are Advil (ibuprofen), Tylenol (acetaminophen), and Aleve (naproxen). These medicines work by inhibiting the enzyme that produces prostaglandins, which are natural chemicals in the body that help promote healing. Unfortunately, these compounds also cause inflammation to increase blood flow to the affected area, where pain and fever are also side effects. When you take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, you prevent prostaglandin from being produced, which lessens inflammation and pain.
That said, limit your intake of NSAIDs or take your doctor’s advice. Prostaglandin has another function—which is to protect your stomach lining and improve platelet production, which is necessary for clotting of wounds. Abusing NSAIDs will make your stomach more vulnerable to your gastric acid, leading to acid reflux or stomach ulcers.
There are several ways to deal with sciatica for more long-term relief, which includes exercising and stretching. The best way to do it is to combine stretching movements that rotate your hip externally, or away from your body. Pigeon poses (reclining, sitting, or forward variants) are useful, as it involves crossing your leg to the opposite and stretching them toward your body. Hamstring stretches are also great for this purpose.
Take care not to overdo any stretching, warns back pain experts. Most people you see on YouTube tutorials have been doing it for years, which give them a degree of flexibility beginners struggle to achieve. If you feel pain, stop right away.
This includes chiropractic sessions, acupuncture, and biofeedback. While these are not “harmful” per se, the jury is still out on the degree of their effectiveness. Biofeedback involves giving the patient data of their bodily processes such as heart rate, brain waves, and the like, allowing them to have a measure of conscious control over these processes. Acupuncture, meanwhile, inserts needles into channels of energy, which can influence the body’s own healing process. Chiropractic is the more particular of these three, especially as it involves the realignment of the bones, especially the spine, to lessen the symptoms of pain and poor mobility.
Whatever you choose to deal with your sciatic pain, always consult a doctor before engaging in any treatment.