The largest nerve in the human body is the sciatic nerve. This nerve can be found from the nerve roots of your spinal cord in the lower back down to the buttocks. A nerve pain that comes from the irritation of the sciatic nerve is known as sciatica. The sciatic nerve pain is usually felt at the low back behind your thigh and it radiates down below your knee.
Sciatica pain treatment depends on the underlying cause of the condition as well as on the intensity of the pain felt. Home remedies for sciatic nerve pain are available to help treat the condition at the comforts of your own home. From simple sciatica stretching exercises to herbal medications, you can have a do-it-yourself treatment for mild sciatica pain. However, if these simple treatments won’t be of help especially in cases where there is chronic and intense sciatic pain, medical professionals will suggest that you undergo a sciatica surgery. If you can prevent the situation from aggravating, then you must check this home remedies now to help treat the pain of your sciatic nerve.
Look after your body and your body will look after you
Causes and Symptoms:
Causes: medical conditions such as lumbar herniated disc, lumbar degenerative disc disease, arthritis of the spine, osteophytes, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, nerve irritation from nearby bones, muscles, tumors, infections of the lumbar spine, internal bleeding
Symptoms: pain, numbness, tingling and burning sensation radiating from lower back and upper bum down through the back of thigh and to the leg, lumbago or lower back pain, symptoms that can be aggravated by walking or bending the waist but relieved when lying down or changing positions
The symptoms of sciatica are commonly present in pregnancy too. Sciatica pain during pregnancy may be caused by an increase in the hormone relaxin, which causes the ligaments of the body to loosen and stretch. The sciatic-like symptoms are very common in pregnancy and 50-80% of women experience lower back pains during this time period.
10 Natural Remedies For Sciatica (Sciatic Nerve Pain)
1. Sciatica Stretches (Sitting Pigeon Pose)
- Sit on a flat surface with both legs stretched in front of you.
- Bend the right leg and place the right ankle on top of your left knee.
- Lean your upper torso forward and allow the upper body to reach to your thigh.
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds to stretch your lower back and glutes.
- Repeat the same procedure on the other side.
There are many sciatica stretching exercises that you can do to help treat the pain. One of the most convenient stretches is the sitting pigeon pose stretching. This stretch will open the hips and externally rotate it to give some kind of relief from the pain. This yoga position is contraindicated, however, in people who have knee injuries and sacroiliac problems.
2. White Willow Bark
- Drink 120 or 240 mg white willow bark supplement once a day for several weeks. Prior to taking the supplement, consult your doctor first to ensure that you do not have any underlying conditions or medical drugs that may interact with the supplement.
The use of white willow bark provides a long lasting pain relief to sciatic nerve pain. The bark contains phenolic glycosides and salicin which gives both analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect.
Taking willow bark may cause digestive system and stomach upset. It may also lead to itching and rashes. People who are allergic to aspirin may also have allergic reactions to white willow bark. Do not use this when you are pregnant or breastfeeding as it can be harmful to the baby.
3. Avoid Prolonged Sitting For Long Periods Of Time
- Alternate periods of sitting and lying down with short walks in between.
- Include isometric exercises or stretches in between periods of inactivity.
Sitting for a long period of time will worsen the condition as it will exacerbate the bulging discs and the back pain. Most of the treatment plans for sciatica involves certain activities which will loosen the inflamed areas.
4. Fenugreek Seeds
- Pulverize a handful of fenugreek seeds.
- Mix the powder with milk to form a mushy paste.
- Apply the paste on the affected and painful area as a poultice.
- Leave the poultice for a few hours before washing it off.
- Repeat every day to get desired relief.
Fenugreek seeds not only helps sooth sciatica pain, but it also helps in soothing the pain of people with rheumatoid arthritis and gout. It has anti-inflammatory effects which get rid of the pain and swelling.
Common side effects of fenugreek seeds include nasal congestion, wheezing, coughing, swelling of the face, and severe allergic reactions for people who are hypersensitive. It may also lower blood pressure levels or cause stomach upset, diarrhea, gas, bloating and a “maple syrup” urine scent.
5. Hot Compress
- Place a hot pack or heating pad to the painful area for 15-20 minutes.
- Repeat the procedure every now and then until the pain subsides.
The use of hot compress for sciatica home treatment aids in relaxing the tensed muscles that compress the sciatic nerve. It is best to use moist heat such as a steamed towel when treating sciatica pain since it is more effective compared to other heating paraphernalia.
When using a hot compress, make sure that the temperature is tolerable and not hot enough to cause burns. It should not be used on areas with open wounds and those people with acute inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. People with active bleeding, cancer, skin infection, and venous ulcers should not use hot compress too. Those who have recent infection or fever should also avoid the use of heating pads and other heat therapy methods.
6. Cold Compress
- Place a cold pack or ice pad to the painful area for 15-20 minutes.
- Repeat the procedure every now and then until the pain subsides.
Cold treatment is beneficial for people with sciatic nerve pain as it helps in the reduction of the swelling of nerves. Cold therapy is also helpful in a way that it numbs the pain, thus, providing a great relief.
A cold compress is strongly contraindicated for people with circulatory problems. It should not be used by patients who are hypersensitive to cold or those with cold intolerance. As with hot compress, it should not be given as a therapy to people with open wounds around the treatable area and those with impaired sensations.
7. Massage With Special Oils
- St. John’s Wort: Massage the painful area using St. John’s Wort oil 2-3 times daily until relief is felt.
- Sesame Oil: Heat a mixture of 1 cup sesame oil and 3 tbsp nutmeg powder. Allow to cool and massage the area using the warm mixture. Make sure that it is of right temperature to avoid burns. Do the massage few times a day for several weeks for relief.
- Trigger-point massage therapy: You can use either of the oils for this therapy. When doing the massage, ensure that you deal with trigger points in the minimus and gluteus medius muscles since they usually trigger pain in your buttocks, lower back, and side thighs.
Massage is a relaxing way to treat sciatica pain especially if it is caused by muscle spasms. Moreover, massaging the area helps stimulate circulation thereby releasing tension in the muscles. Using specific oils will help alleviate the pain further as they contain special chemicals that enable the pain to be relieved. St. John’s wort and sesame both have anti-inflammatory effects that ease pain and inflammation.
Before having a massage therapy, consult your doctor first as certain medical conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, recent burns or surgeries, open sores or wounds, and aneurisms among many others are contraindications for massage therapy. Application of St. John’s Wort on the skin might cause skin rashes or severe reactions to exposure to the sun. Meanwhile, sesame oil is likely safe to use though it can affect blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure levels.
8. Capsaicin Cream
- Apply 0.025% to 0.075% of capsaicin cream to the affected area.
- Do it 4 times a day for at least 1 week.
Capsaicin is an active ingredient found in cayenne pepper. This ingredient is considered as a natural pain reliever and it also depletes the level of substance P, a neurotransmitter, which transports pain signals. Once this level decreases or depletes, pain is relieved.
Do not apply capsaicin cream on broken skin as it initially causes a burning sensation. There will also be warmth and stinging sensation which may persist or worsen. Once these sensations do not go away, you must consult with your doctor or pharmacist immediately. Furthermore, avoid inhaling the capsaicin residue as it will cause throat irritation, watery eyes, coughing and sneezing.
- In a cup of milk, add 1 tsp of turmeric. You may or may not add a small cinnamon stick.
- Boil the mixture, and let cool.
- Add honey to sweeten.
- Drink 1-2 times daily until relief is felt.
You may also opt to choose to take 250 to 500 mg turmeric supplements thrice a day for a few weeks, but you must check this with your doctor first. Turmeric is a great home remedy for sciatica pain because of its anti-inflammatory effects. The compound curcumin found in turmeric reduces inflammation and nerve pain.
People who are taking blood thinners or those under diabetic medications should avoid the use of turmeric. Those with gallstones should not use it too. Normally, turmeric use has no side effects but some people reported experiencing nausea, dizziness, stomach upset or diarrhea.
10. Valerian Root
- Steep 1 tsp of dried valerian root in 1 cup hot water for 10 minutes.
- Strain the mixture, and allow to cool.
- Drink the tea numerous times a week for a few weeks.
Another option for valerian root treatment is to take 150 mg of valerian root supplement thrice a day for several weeks. However, you need to consult your doctor first to see if it is safe for you and that you have no medical contraindications. Valerian root is an excellent relaxant that relieves chronic nerve pain. It is a good treatment for the relief of sciatica pain caused by spasms of the muscles. The herb also has volatile oils that ease tension by relaxing the muscles, and it is a great help in making you sleep too.
Common side effects of valerian root that you may experience include stomach upset, dry mouth, drowsiness during the day, headache, cognitive problems, and feeling uneasy or excited. Strange dreams are also one of the reported effects of people using valerian root as treatment.
How long does sciatica last?
As discussed previously, there are various causes of sciatica pain. The different causes of sciatica play a big role as to how long the pain will last. For those with non-radiculopathic sciatica, the healing period usually takes 4-10 weeks up. However, in more extreme cases, this can last up to 6 months.
For acute sciatica with mild symptoms, it does not last longer than 4-8 weeks. Medical intervention is not usually necessary for acute sciatica and this can be treated with basic exercises to stretch the sciatic nerve. However, if pain continues for more than 4-8 weeks, x-ray or MRI may be recommended to help identify the reason why the sciatic nerve is being compressed.
Sciatica pain may be mild for some people, but too much for others. As there are various intensities of pain, it is always best to prevent its occurrence than wait for it to happen before getting treatment. Changing your lifestyle for the better will help prevent sciatic nerve pain. All you have to do is to include regular exercises on your daily activities. It is also important to remember using appropriate posture in everything that you do from standing up to sitting down, as well as in lifting objects.