What is sciatica? Sciatica is a nerve in the back, beginning with the roots close to the spine. If the roots of the nerve become pinched by pressure of an out of place disc bulging a little bit out from the spine, we may experience lower back pain. The pain travels through the hips and buttocks and down into the legs. Usually we experience this one one side of the body. Sciatica pain usually lasts a few weeks. Then it subsides. It may flare up again over time. We can be a partner in our pain relief and then improve our overall back health with a few simple home remedies. Home treatment may be all you need to treat sciatica. As always, please consult your health practitioner before embarking on any treatment plan.
- Ice, ice, ice. Ice is our friend in any inflammation and pain situation. Wearing a light cotton shirt, place ice packs or ice in a large ziplock baggie, and place on the lower back for 15-20 minutes a few times a day.
- Ibuprofin, Aspirin, or Acetaminophen will help ease the pain and inflammation during acute pain flare ups. Make certain to ask your health practitioner which one is right for you. There are even Ibuprofin creams to rub on that do not enter the digestive system if you are sensitive to Ibuprofen.
- For prevention of future flare ups, movement is key. An easy and effective move is to lie on the floor with the feet flat and knees bent. Open up the feet so they are wider than the hips. Gently swing the knees all the way down to one side and keep the shoulders and torso parallel, flat to the floor. This gentle spinal twist uses the gravity from Mother Earth to make more space in the spinal area, releasing the pinch on the nerve. Hold this on each side up to one minute and then gently bring back to the center, and swing over to the opposite side. Do this 3x a day.
- Another helpful movement for sciatica health is to engage in a yoga pose called supported bridge posture. Lying down on the floor, knees bent and feet flat to the floor, raise the hips up as high as you can. Place a few pillows under the glutes and squeeze the glutes as tight as you can for 10 seconds. If you cannot keep the hips up high, rest them on the pillows (or a few rolled bath towels). Squeezing the buttocks tight is the key. So 4 sets of 10 seconds a few times a day.
- Opening up the whole hip area creates more space. Try this: Lying on the back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, fold one leg up over the knee creating a figure 4. Holding the other thigh with both hands and pull the 4 shape in towards the chest. The opposite hip socket will wake up! Breathe slowly in and out of the nose only, holding for 30-60 seconds. Then engage the other side in the same manner. Do this 3x a day.
- Walking is great for sciatica pain. Lengthen your stride so you feel a stretch in the front hip flexors, where the legs meet the torso.
- Some folks may need a steroid treatment or a shot in the back to relieve the pain. The key is to keep on moving, as not moving will make symptoms worse.
About 90% of people with sciatica will get better without surgery. You can start treating your sciatica at home. Home treatment may be all you need, especially if injury or pregnancy triggered your sciatica.
I hope this helps you in your wellness journey!