Body aches and pains can be both a nuisance as well as totally debilitating — especially when it comes to sciatica.
Comprising pain that affects the back, hip, and outer side of the leg, caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back, sciatica is often the result of the degeneration of an intervertebral disk.
Whether you’re an avid athlete, work on your feet all day, or simply recognize the necessity of moving regularly for your health, it can be a total mental and physical setback when a mild ache and numbness or a sharp, burning pain affects the body. It may even cause you to stay in bed, constantly reaching for the ibuprofen or some other over-the-counter medication to alleviate the symptoms.
But if you’re sick of succumbing to popping pills and the side effects that come with that, and simply want to treat the inflammation and relieve the pain, you’ll be glad to know there are plenty of natural ways you can do so. Here are seven to take advantage of:
An alternative treatment that involves inserting hair-fine needles into specific points on the body, acupuncture is thought to boost the flow of energy, which contributes to proper nerve function. Pooled analysis of nine studies with 780 patients in the acupuncture group and 771 in the medication group revealed that acupuncture was significantly more effective than conventional medication when it came to treating pain associated with sciatica.
2. Chiropractic Adjustments
By adjusting the spine to increase mobility, boost function, lessen inflammation and pain, and promote natural healing, chiropractic therapies have been found to effectively treat sciatica. The European Spine Journal published the findings from a clinical trial examining the results chiropractic adjustments had on those suffering from sciatica pain. The study discovered a 72 percent success rate in treating sciatica and related symptoms compared to the 20 percent success from physical therapy and 50 percent from corticosteroid injections.
3. Ice Packs
Whether you want to use ice packs or a frozen back of vegetables wrapped in a towel, putting the packs right on the area for 20 minutes every two hours can offer instant relief to sciatica-related pain and discomfort.
4. Alternate Temperatures
Because the sciatic nerve is located deep in the body, using a hot pack right after an ice pack, or even taking a hot bath, can boost the circulation and lymph flow. The switch from cold to hot will reduce the deeper inflammation to aid in the healing process.
5. Herbs And Oils
Long before synthetic medications came to be, nature’s medicine was working wonders on aches and pains. Making teas using fresh or dried herbs and spices can provide pain relief. In fact, turmeric’s main medicinal ingredient, curcumin, has been found by various studies to reduce inflammation. One review of pre-clinical and clinical research indicates that curcumin specifically inhibits the expression of inflammatory enzymes, the release of interleukin- 12, 6, 8 and 12, inflammatory cytokines, and platelet aggression.
Essential oils like lavender are also great for applying topically to soothe pain from the outside, since it has antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Mild Stretching
While it may feel like the last thing you want to do when you’re in pain, movement is still essential to managing sciatica. Mild yoga stretches can stimulate the blood flow, strengthen your back muscles, and improve your mobility.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed 101 adults with low back pain by putting them in one of three groups: one attended yoga classes and lessons; the second did aerobics, weight training, and stretching; the third group read a self-help book about back pain. After a 12-week period, the study discovered that those who took yoga could better perform daily activities requiring the back than those in the other two groups, and after 26 weeks, those who took yoga had less pain and better back function.
For some great stretches for sciatic pain, click here.
You can also try using a foam roller while stretching. It’s an effective way to help break apart stuck muscle fibres and mimics the work of a massage therapist.
7. Getting Enough Sleep
It seems like sleep pops up on nearly every list of ways to boost your health, and for good reason. Getting enough sleep means allowing your body and your nerves enough time to relax, heal, and balance.
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