The term sciatica refers to nerve pain that is caused by irritation of the root of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine. This nerve pain originates in the lower back and radiates down to the buttock and into the leg. The symptoms can be characterized by a burning sensation or shooting pain in the lower back, numbness behind the leg, one-sided symptoms, and worsening pain while sitting or standing. Sciatic pain typically occurs if a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine, or narrowing of the spine canal (spinal stenosis) is present and is compressing part of the sciatic nerve. Pain derived from inflammation of the sciatic nerve can be severe however, there are several tips and exercises that can be performed that help to alleviate most of this pain.
3 Tips to Reduce Sciatica Pain:
- Use Nutrition to Reduce Inflammation
Following a diet composed of whole grains and whole foods can be an effective method of reducing inflammation. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, salmon, fiber, turmeric, ginger, and green/black tea are all exceptional sources of anti-inflammatory substances; all of which can also help to increase immunity as these foods are rich in nutrition.
While following this diet, it is crucial to be aware of the types of foods that may cause inflammation. Foods such as sugars, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and hydrogenated oils should be avoided or limited for the most effective result as they contain substances that can cause inflammation.
Although changing your diet can have a positive effect on your sciatica pain, you must consult with your doctor before making these changes to ensure that this type of diet is right for you.
2. Build Up Micronutrients in Your Body
Utilizing micronutrients as a way to suppress inflammatory mediators is an extremely effective way of reducing inflammation. Although you may be following a nutrient-rich diet, you may not be consuming all of the micronutrients needed to help build up your nerve health. Some beneficial micronutrients include magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, zinc, selenium, and fish oil. Specifically, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 both help to improve nerve health which can be effective in relieving sciatica pain while vitamin E, zinc, and selenium all act as antioxidants in the body.
3. Get Active
Water therapy has been shown to improve nerve and muscle function in the lower body. Something as simple as walking in water can make a significant difference in how your lower body functions. Exercising in water is so effective because of the natural buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, thermodynamics, and viscosity of water helps you utilize your lower body with much less pain.
- Sitting Spinal Stretch
When the vertebrae in the spine are compressed, sciatica pain can become present. The sitting spinal stretch helps to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve by forming a space in the spine.
- Sit on the floor and extend your legs straight out in front of you with your feet facing upwards.
- Bend your right knee and plant your foot flat on the floor on the outside of your opposite knee.
- Set your left elbow on the outside of your right knee to support you as you turn your body toward the right.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat three times, then switch sides.
- Standing Hamstring Stretch
This stretch can help to reduce and ease any pain and tightness in the hamstring brought on by sciatica.
- Place your right foot on an elevated surface at or below your hip level. You may use a chair, ottoman, or a step on a staircase for this step. Flex your foot so your toes and leg are straight. Keep a slight bend in your knee if it tends to hyperextend.
- Bend your body forward slightly toward your foot. You may deepen the stretch by bending further. If you feel pain, you are bending too far.
- Release the hip of your raised leg downward instead of lifting it. If you have trouble with this, you may loop a resistance band over your right thigh and under your left foot.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.
If the sciatica pain you are experiencing worsens to the point of disrupting your daily life, please consult with your doctor to discuss additional treatments.