- What is Sciatica?
- Sciatica Root Causes
- Symptoms of Sciatica
- Home Remedies for Sciatic Nerve Pain
What Exactly is Sciatica?
Sciatica is also known as Sciatic Neuritis (Scientific Binomial Name), Sciatic Nerve Pain (Common English), (Unani), Kati Snaayu Shool (Hindi / Urdu), Kal vali (Tamil), Kati Pradosh (Marathi), (Sanskrit), Nitambabedana (Bengali), Tunti noppi (Telugu), Vata (Kannada), Sciatica (Malayalam), Zuogushenjing tong (Chinese), Ciatica (Spanish), Ciatica (Portuguese), ishias (Russian). Sciatica is a condition that involves pain that runs from the lower back to the buttocks and/or the outer back of the leg. It radiates along the sciatic nerve, hence the name. Sometimes the sciatic nerve fibers also become inflamed. Something’s amiss with the delicate column of bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints that holds you up. You might have strained a muscle, pulled a ligament, or maybe you have a herniated disk. These disks, which separate the vertebrae, are fibrous rings surrounding a pulpy core. If a disk is herniated, some of that pulpy material is pushing against a nerve root. You have sciatica if a herniated disk presses on the sciatic nerve, causing sharp pain to shoot down the leg.
Sciatica Root Causes
Sciatica is a pain felt along the back and outer side of the thigh, leg, and foot, with accompanying back pain and stiffness generally caused by a damaged disc putting pressure on either the sciatic nerve or one of the many other nerves which start in the lower back area. The roots of the sciatic nerve lie near the base of your spine. They pass through a tunnel in your pelvis called the sciatic notch, then come together like separate lanes merging into super highways. The two large sciatic nerves that lead all the way down your legs. When the sciatic roots are pinched by pressure from a herniated disk, for instance sensations of pain, tingling, or numbness may extend all the way from your buttocks to your legs, feet, and toes.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica is the name given to the aching or pain along the route of the sciatic nerve. This is the largest nerve in the body, running from the spinal cord, through the buttock and the back of each leg. Sciatica is usually caused by pressure on the roots of the sciatic nerve, most commonly from a prolapsed disk, but other possible causes include pregnancy and childbirth, heavy lifting, stress, or a tumor. The type of pain varies from mild to more severe and “shooting” in nature. There may also be associated symptoms such as a burning sensation and muscle weakness. Numbness or pins and needles in the leg, foot, or toes. Muscle spasms in buttock or leg. Diminished reflexes in knees and ankles.
Home Remedies for Sciatic Nerve Pain
1. Mustard Plaster
Have you ever heard of a mustard plaster? This home treatment has a long folk history of use as a treatment for both respiratory complaints and rheumatic problems like sciatica. A mustard plaster eases a number of back issues such as sciatica, neuralgia, joint inflammation and rheumatic pain. Quantities for the mustard paste will depend on the size of plaster required. Use a piece of cotton or linen cloth at least twice the size required. Grind mustard seeds (be aware that black are the hottest), then add 4 times as much all purpose flour and enough cool water to make a paste. Spread paste onto half the fabric, fold over, if too wet add another layer of cloth, once placed on the affected area this will increase blood circulation, perspiration and heat. Do not let the paste touch bare skin, and do not use for longer than 30 minutes. Remove and wash well with warm water. Mustard is a rubefacient counterirritant, which means it cause a soothing feeling of warmth on the skin while its counterirritant properties cause mild irritation, distracting the body from the deeper pain of sciatica. The combination of heat and counterirritation has a pain relieving effect. OR Mustard oil can be rubbed into the affected area to warm it.
2. Hip Bath
Hot hip bath is beneficial for excessive pain. This bath is generally taken for 8 to 10 minutes at a water temperature of 40 C to 45 C. The bath should start at 40 C. The temperature should be gradually increased to 45 C. No friction should be applied to the abdomen. Before entering the tub, drink one glass of cold water. Place a cold compress on the head. A hot hip bath helps to relieve painful menstruation, pain in the pelvic organs, painful urination, inflamed rectum or bladder and painful piles. It also benefits enlarged prostatic gland, painful contractions or spasm of the bladder, sciatica, neuralgia of the ovaries and bladder. A cold shower bath should be taken immediately after the hot hip bath. Care should be taken to prevent from catching a chill after the bath. The bath should be terminated if you feels giddy or complains of excessive pain.
3. Yoga Asana – Gomukhasana
Yoga asanas are very effective to treat buttocks, hip, and lower extremities. Gomukhasana (Cow face pose) yoga is one of the useful yoga asan for sciatic. Sit erect on the floor, with your legs outstretched. Fold your leg back. Place your left foot under the right hip. Similarly, fold back the right leg and cross your right foot over your left thigh. Place your right heel against the left hip. Both soles should face backwards, one over the other. Now interlock your hands behind your back. See to it that if your right leg is over the left, then your right elbow should face upward and the left elbow downward. This position is reversed when the leg position is changed. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and then repeat the procedure reversing the process. The practice of gomukhasana will strengthen the muscles of the upper arm, shoulder, chest, back, waist and thigh. It is beneficial in the treatment of seminal weakness, piles, urethral disorders and kidney troubles. It also relieves varicose veins and sciatica.
4. Ginger Sesame Lotion
Ginger sesame lotion can be used for sore skin. Grate two fresh ginger roots on the smaller holes of a hand held grater so as to obtain a finer pulp. Enclose this in enough double layered gauze or cheesecloth and press hard enough to extract 1- 2 tsps. of juice. The juice is then mixed with 3 tbsp. of sesame seed oil and 1/2 tsp. lemon juice. This sesame ginger oil can then be rubbed directly on the sore areas.
5. Willow Bark
Willow comes with healing effect, it contains salicin, the herbal equivalent of aspirin. It can help relieve sciatic pain, and is as an effective pain reliever for everything from headache to arthritis. The salicin content of willow varies from species to species. Start with a low dose tea made with a 1/2 teaspoon of dried herb and working your way up to a dose that provides effective pain relief. As with aspirin, long term use of willow bark may cause stomach distress and even ulcers, so try sweetening willow bark tea with a little licorice, which has ulcer preventing benefits. And if you’re allergic to aspirin, you probably shouldn’t take herbal aspirin, either.
Hayseed soothes painful back joints and muscles. Many Europeans using hayseed as Kneipp therapy, where hayseed has been packaged in bath bags or prepared in the form of hot poultices. Hayseed poultices are effective for treating a range of rheumatic conditions as well as sciatica. But how does hayseed work? It is a mixture of grass seeds, especially Anthoxanthon odoraturm. It contains a good deal of a compound called coumarin, a camphor like substance that boosts local blood flow when applied externally. There are lots of amazing testimonials endorsing hayseed baths and poultices for relieving sciatic pain. Hayseed added to bath has ability to soothe painful backs, joints and muscles.
7. Yoga Asana – Paschimottanasana
Yoga asana – paschimottanasana is a good stretching exercise in which the posterior muscles get stretched and relaxed. It relieves sciatica, muscular rheumatism of the back, backache, lumbago and asthmatic attacks. It is also valuable in constipation, dyspepsia and other abdominal disorders. Here is how to do it? Sit erect. Stretch your legs out in front of you, keeping them close to each other. Bend your trunk and head forward from the waist without bending your knees and grasp the big toes with your rest your forehead on your knees. With practice, the tense muscles become supple enough for this exercise. Old persons and persons whose spine is still should do this asana slowly in the initial stages. The final pose need be maintained only for a few seconds. Return to the starting position gradually.
8. St. John’s Wort Oil
St. John’s wort oil helps to dull nerve pain and speed tissue repair. Apply fixed oil directly on the skin overlying neuralgic areas. OR Rub fresh lemon over the affected area – it works!
Celery juice or an infusion of celery seeds may be drunk to alleviate sciatica. Sciatica and other back pains may be eased by lying on the floor for 15 minutes. Prop the head up on a small pile of paperback books and keep the knees bent. Repeat daily.
10. Chinese Herbalism
Sciatica is believed to be caused by heat stagnation in the Liver. Gou Teng may be useful, and San Qi can help with the general relief of pain. A practitioner will select herbs specific to your symptoms and the cause of the condition. OR Apply bruised juniper berries to the affected area for pain relief.