sciatica

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on positive and negative energies generated by food intake, environment and lifestyles. Acupuncture is one of its mainstays for sciatica nerve treatment. Despite its popularity and effectiveness in many cases, acupuncture has not undergone much scrutiny from the researchers. There are many stories that tell us about the immediate relief and permanent cure that acupuncture is capable of. The fact is that success stories get advertised while incidents where acupuncture failed to treat do not get published unless there is an unfortunate happening. Like all alternative treatments, acupuncture too does not have the backing of drug companies as there is nothing in it for them.

Conventional medicine believes that sciatica can be caused by one or more of the following reasons:

* A compression of the sciatic nerve that exits from the base of the spine.
* Compression of the sciatic nerve due to a slipped disc due to trauma or a natural process.
* Degenerative disc disease.
* The narrowing of the spinal cord due to the natural ageing process.
* Improper postures.
* A pinched nerve due to trauma or inflammation in the piriformis muscle, a condition often termed as pseudo sciatica.

There may be some other reasons for sciatica but TCM, classifies sciatica pains based on different parameters. The three kinds of sciatica pain that TCM identifies are:

* Sciatica pain that gets aggravated by cold or damp weather.
* Sciatica pain that is worse in the evening and better in the morning but aggravated by fatigue.
* Sciatica pain that is worse in the morning but aggravated by sitting still.

These parameters are used to identify the organs in the body that have been affected by negative energies and the meridians related with them are earmarked. For example, meridians between the lower back to heels are indicated when the pain is aggravated due to a damp or cold weather. Similarly, where the pain is worse in the evening and aggravated due to fatigue, a deficiency in liver or kidney function is indicated. If the pain is worse in the morning, an acupuncture expert looks at reasons related to stagnation of blood due to trauma, postural problems or something structural that is pinching or irritating the sciatic nerve.

This understanding helps the expert to identify the exact pressure points that need to be worked upon. The expert may insert sharp needles (sterilized, of course) along the path of the pain to unblock energy (Qi). This process is believed to spread out the external pathogen and activate Qi energy to eliminate pain. The specialist may also advise application of heat on the meridian points, exercise and herbs as part of the overall sciatica alternative remedies.

It is a matter of personal preferences whether to look towards acupuncture or stick to conventional drugs that have to be taken with care due to their notorious side effects. Some of the other sciatica alternative remedies like exercise, homeopathy, yogic postures and herbs are equally effective and deserve consideration. This is especially important because sciatica treatment can prove to be a lifelong process at times.

Sciatica may be a symptom and not a disease, but the pain is excruciating and may result in immobilization of the patient. The condition requires effective pain management. Natural modes of pain relief are indeed better than a prolonged use of pain relieving drugs.

All back pain is not sciatica; nor is all sciatica-like pain in the lower back, buttocks and legs caused by a herniated disc. Too much attention is paid to serious sounding names of diseases and most of us tend to associate even Ďsimilarí symptoms to them.

Sciatica is popularly known to be a symptom of a disc problem. Tenderness, tingling, pins and needles, numbness or a burning sensation in a limb is commonly associated with sciatica. Even though some people are quick to jump to such conclusions, it is not necessary that such kind of pain means a problem with your spine.

Sciatica-like or pseudo sciatica produces similar symptoms. It is often caused due to a pinched nerve and does not necessarily mean that you have to rush for a sciatic nerve treatment that involves prescription drugs. A pinched nerve is the result of compression, tightening or stretching of a nerve. Nerves like the radial, ulnar, femoral and sciatic that pass over bones are the more vulnerable.

Most of the times, such sciatica-like pain can be treated with simple remedies that can be acquired over-the counter. These include sciatica alternative remedies that are also worth trying in such cases. The most recommended treatment is to give the body and specifically the damaged area some rest.

You can do so by modifying your activities to avoid those that cause or aggravate compression of the affected nerve. Try some muscle strengthening and stretching exercises to work on the affected area to relieve the compression.

Sometimes the area affected is highly mobile even during sleep. Wearing a splint or a brace on wrists or ankles during the day as well as while sleep will immobilize those parts and provide the much needed relief.

Homeopathic remedies form an integral part of any OTC treatment. Rhus tox, if the pain gets better on applying warmth and Arnica, if it follows an injury are among the most common homoeopathic remedies for pain caused by a pinched nerve. Herbal tea made of equal parts of St. Johnís wort, Siberian Ginseng and Skullcap will also ease pain equally well.

Rather than exposing and increasing your vulnerability to the condition, it is much better to take preventive measures.

* A good posture is a precondition for avoiding a pinched nerve.
* Learn how to pick heavy objects properly Ė bend your knees and not your back.
* Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods.
* If you have a sitting job, invest in an ergonomic chair or take a break every now and then to give rest to tensed muscles.
* Make exercise a part of your daily routine.
* Avoid putting on weight.
* Include lecithin in your diet; it can help to regenerate nerves.

On the face of it, a pinched nerve is a minor condition but it can sometimes lead to other conditions like peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. It is imperative that the cause of pain be determined as these conditions may cause a permanent disability if not addressed to in time.

Pregnancy is one of the major causes behind pain in the lower back in women, which is similar to sciatica. Sciatica is primarily caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve due to any one or more reasons behind the compression.

Typically, sciatica is the compression of the sciatic nerve roots in the lower spine. A condition known as pseudo sciatica causes similar debilitating pain when the peripheral sections of the sciatic nerve are compressed.

As it is, pregnancy on its own has nothing to do with sciatica. Pregnancy leads to true-sciatica only in rare cases. It is the changes that occur in a womenís body in late preganancy that may lead to sciatica-like pain. Either of these changes can cause sciatica type pain.

* The uterus presses the sciatic nerve.
* Abdominal and lower muscles become tense and put pressure on the nerve.
* Vertebral compression due to the extra weight of the fetus.
* Postural changes that accompany pregnancy.

Rarely, during pregnancy a spinal disc may be damaged, which too can lead to sciaitca.

Sciatica pain mostly occurs in the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet. Typical sciatic pain can be:

* Pins and needles
* A shooting pain
* Pain that extends from lower back to legs along the buttocks.
* Numbenss in leg or foot.

Whether due to preganancy or otherwise, pseudo sciatica is mostly associated with postural defaults such as:

* Sitting cross legged for long periods.
* Sitting in a chair that does not support the back properly
* Sitting on a wallet

There may be cases of the pregnancy causing tension in the piriformis muscle, which in turn, may pinch the sciatic nerve.

If sciatica is actually diagnosed during pregnancy, sciatic nerve treatment should only be done under the supervision of a specialist qualified to treat pregnancy related sciatic pain. Painkillers have side effects and should not be taken without consulting your gynaecologist. Any recklesness in this respect can cause irreparable damage to the baby you are carrying.

Sciatica alternative remedies play an important role in treating both typical and pseudo sciaitca. Pregnancy is a delicate matter and the primary concern should be of the saftey of the child that is developing within your body.

Even alternative remedies that are generally safe should be taken under medical supervision. Herbs are normally touted as safe but indisciminate use of even the safest herb can be harmful. Exercises, yoga or any other therpay should also be undertakne under constant guidance from a therapist.

Swimming and a very gentle stretching exercise program.are two of the safest measures of getting relief from back pain during pregnancy. In addition, avoid getting too tired, learn to relax yourself, always sit straight or try applying a hot or cold pack to the affected area.


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The longest nerve in the human body, the sciatic nerve, can be a source of much pain if it is compressed due to some reason. The pain is often unbearable and pain management is required at times to be able to carry on daily duties.

Many people believe that sciatica pain is a disease whereas it is only a symptom of some disorder. The disorder could be related to the spinal cord or a non-spinal muscle called the piriformis.

Generally sciatica pain occurs on one side of the body and radiates through the length of the sciatic nerve, from the lower back to your toes. Chronic sciatica pain that does not subside within three months can lead to complex physical and mental side effects. Persistent stress of chronic sciatica can bring on a chain reaction leading to further pain since it weakens the nervous system and the immune system.

Management of pain may be categorized in the following main and subcategories:

Conventional Sciatic Nerve Treatment

  • Drugs
  • Epidurals

Sciatica Alternative Remedies

  • Home Remedies
  • Exercise & Aquatic exercise
  • Alteration in daily activities
  • Improved Nutrition

Natural

  • Homoeopathy
  • Ayurvedic herbs and massages
  • Chiropractic
  • Cold & Heat Therapies
  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure

Conventional sciatic nerve treatment for pain relief includes pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs. In cases of severe and chronic pain a physician may advise epidural steroid injections.

Sciatica alternative remedies include a number of options and can be chosen based on personal preferences.

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Sciatica is not likely to cure itself over time and while undergoing therapy, it is important to control and manage pain. Exercise helps in healing and a regular exercise regime can go a long way in preserving mobility and functionality to a reasonable level.

It is pertinent that you alter the way you go about business in your normal schedule. Care needs to be taken that the back is not harmed and that you maintain good practices. Make sure to follow some steps

  • Correct posture while sitting.
  • Use of a low back support.
  • Periodic change in position while sitting to relieve stress.
  • Bend at your knees when you need to lift something. So not put pressure on your waist.
  • Opt for a comfortable mattress that will support your back.

Nutrition is one thing that we usually do not associate with pain and you may be surprised to know that water and oxygen are extremely necessary to maintain healthy vertebral discs.

  • Sipping water throughout the day is highly recommended.
  • Caffeinated drinks and alcohol decrease hydration and bring about cramps in muscles. Avoid them as much as you can.

Natural therapies like homeopathy, chiropractic manipulation, ice/cold therapy, and ultrasound wave induced heat therapy are known to have given good results in sciatica pain management.

Acupressure is a system of applying pressure at vital points called Meridians. This enables free flow of the vital energy force of the body. Acupuncture, on the other hand, attempts to do the same by inserting very fine sterile needle at the appropriate Meridians.

Ayurvedic herbal remedies and massages, extremely popular in India, have a long lasting affect on loosening the muscles that have become stiff. They also help in propping the spinal column.

Some kind of pain management is extremely important since no therapy can guarantee complete elimination. It allows you to manage life in a better manner.

There has been a lot of media hype over herbal treatments. With the banning of certain herbs and their exclusion from the US pharmacopeia, due to their reported adverse affects, herbs have also had their shares of controversies.

Herbs are natural products and have nothing to offer to pharmaceutical companies as they are difficult to patent. Turmeric is one of the few herbs over which the Indian Government has fought a successful legal battle against companies that are trying to patent it for medicinal purposes.

Conventional allopathic drugs are infamous for their adverse affects and the complications that are difficult to manage. There are myriads of plants and herbs that have medicinal properties that are safe to use and have been in use for ages.

Turmeric has a rich past to support its efficacy in healing. It is not uncommon to see Indians drinking milk mixed with pure turmeric powder when they hurt themselves. Turmeric and milk can also prove to be a good home remedy for a cold and chest congestion.

It is also used as a topical application for sprains and strains. However, turmeric does not have research to back it and one has to depend upon success stories and word of mouth testimonies. Stories, however, are stories and difficult for people to believe if they are looking for physical and scientific evidence.

Sciatica pain can be debilitating and can often lead to partial or complete immobility. It is a pain caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the human body that has its roots in lower spine and extends to the legs, passing through the buttocks.

Compression of any of its five roots due to alterations in spinal disc is the most common cause behind sciatica. It is a long nerve and is susceptible to getting pinched or compressed at various points along its route.

There is no single treatment for sciatica. Conventional sciatic nerve treatment involves use of toxic pain killers. Even traditional physicians suggest a combination of therapies. Herbs form an important part of sciatica alternative remedies as do exercises, acupuncture, yoga and chiropractic manipulations. Turmeric, as an herbal remedy, can play an important role in managing sciatica.

Turmeric is an herb that grows as a slender stem with yellowish orange color inside. It has known anti inflammatory properties and is an effective herb for healing injuries. A mixture of turmeric, butter oil and herbs like piper longum and roots of the genus Allium is used as a topical medicine for healing, alleviating pain and reducing inflammation. It is chewed in its raw form for cough and is also an important ingredient in practically all types of Indian curries.

The fact that there was an attempt for patenting turmeric for its use in pain relief is sufficient evidence of its efficacy. It may not be long before turmeric gets the recognition that it deserves as alternative medicine for pain relief and accompanying cardiovascular and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Its record is much stronger than most of the other herbs. Turmeric has been in use in Asia for blood, gastrointestinal and dermatological disorders and relief from pain.

The general perception is that sciatica is caused by conditions that lead to a compression of the sciatic nerve. This can happen by certain alterations in spinal discs due to an injury or degeneration or the natural ageing process leading to a narrowing of the spinal cord.

The perception is correct by all means. However, there are conditions that can lead to sciatica even if they are not related to the spinal discs. Most of these conditions are caused by wrong postures and lack of exercise.

Self treatment is a dangerous thing in any ailment and should not be attempted. The only aspect of the condition that you should try managing on your own is the pain that sciatica causes. Sciatica is a symptom and not a disease and self treatment of sciatica is possible in instances where it is not caused due to compression of the spinal discs.

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Sciatica is primarily caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve roots. The sciatic nerve has five roots that exit from the lower spine. In many cases it is tense lower back joints and muscles that irritate the nerve and cause pain. Stretching exercises that involve these joints and muscles can go a long way in relieving the tension.

The piriformis muscle, located beneath the gluteal muscles that form the buttock and move the thigh, is probably the most common cause behind what is known as pseudo sciatica – sciatic pain caused by non-disc related conditions. The piriformis muscle contracts with spasms and the sciatic nerve is strangled beneath the muscle, causing a condition known medically as piriformis syndrome.

Sacroiliac joint, the joint between the sacrum (a wedge-shaped bone that has five fused vertebrae that form the posterior part of the pelvis.) and the ilium (the uppermost and the widest of the three bones that make the hipbone) develops distortions due to excessive sitting on a chair, sitting on a wallet or sleeping in a fetal position. The condition is aggravated due to lack of stretching exercises and those related to myofascial areas and results in vertebral and soft tissue conditions causing sciatica.

Regular exercise, correct postures and a healthy lifestyle are good preventive measures and can effective avoid a situation where you might need sciatic nerve treatment . However, once disc related sciatica has been diagnosed, self treatment is of little help and the condition requires expert guidance even for identifying the exercises that are effective and safe.

General or pseudo sciatica, however, can be effectively managed with stretching exercises that can be performed at home. Admittedly, in certain cases an initial guidance might be required in some cases. Distortions in the pelvis can be corrected by improving postural shortcomings and exercises.

There is no single cure for sciatica and causes of sciatica must be considered individually. Disc related sciatica requires consultation with experts of conventional or sciatica alternative remedies like chiropractic manipulations, yoga, acupuncture, herbal therapy and physical exercises.

A word of caution must be added here. Although some cases of sciatica can be treated at home, it is advisable that patients consult a professional and avoid self treatment to keep the condition from getting worse.

Herbs form an integral part of the holistic approach of all sciatica alternative remedies. Whatever the contention of the conventionalist, the role of herbal treatments cannot be denied. Many conventional medicines were initially derived from herbs and natural products and later synthesized for mass production.

Most of the drugs used for treating different ailments carry warning about side effects. Herbs are relatively safe and, if taken in recommended quantities, do not lead to any complication that cannot be managed easily. A typical herbal sciatic nerve treatment for managing pain will include any or more of the following herbs:

Devilís Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)

Low doses of devilís claw, initially known for relieving pain from arthritis, can ease sciatic pain.

Oil of Wintergreen

It contains methyl salicylate, widely used for treating inflammation caused by arthritis, sciatica, arthritis, rheumatism and tense muscles externally. It is too toxic and should not be ingested.

St. Johns wort

Rubbing oil from this herb on the affected part, preferably before bedtime, will take care of any intense pain and tension.

Chamomile

Chamomile has healing effect on muscle tissue. Topical application or chamomile tea or 10-20 drops of extract in water produces instant results.

Horsetail

This perennial rush-like flowerless herb with hollow stems and a narrow leaves that spread by creeping rhizomes is an effective remedy for building connective tissue.

Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the most talked about herbal remedies for injury, sciatica, healing wounds and pain management. It has been in use in Asia since ages and has a very strong track record. It can be ingested on daily basis, even in its raw form mixed in milk or used as a topical remedy by mixing it with butter oil and other herbs like garlic and leek.

Jamaican Dogwood (Piscidia erythrina)

It is particularly indicated for compression of nerves like sciatic nerve, painful menstruation and spasms.2 to 4 grams of dried root of the herb, three times a day are enough to relieve episodes of sciatica. However, this herb is not recommended for pregnant women or lactating mothers and individuals with congestive cardiac conditions.

Garlic and mustard Oil

Garlic pods and mustard oil work as an effective pain reliever. Put some garlic pods in mustard oil and heat till the garlic is burnt. Let it cool. A regular massage over the affected part will relieve mild pain.

Herbs can be used as standalone medicines and topical applications. They can also be used in combination of more than one herb. Although a safer option, indiscriminate use of herbs can prove to be dangerous in some rare cases.

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Moreover, herbs should be used only after gathering relevant information about the dosage and instances where they should not be used. While a topical application of herbs is devoid of any negative effect on the patient, ingestion can sometimes produce mild side effects.





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