Natural Relief for Sciatica

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Natural Relief for Sciatica

If you’ve ever suffered from sciatica, you’ll know how troublesome it can be. Pain and numbness in your lower back, buttocks and feet are all symptoms of sciatica.

Read on for a round-up of the causes of sciatica and most importantly, how you can naturally ease the pain.

Where is the Sciatic Nerve?

sciatic nerve diagram

Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. It runs from your lower spine and across your pelvis. The nerve then branches down the back of your legs, ending up at your feet.  

Any type of pain or neurological symptom originating from your sciatic nerve is called sciatica. The pain felt in sciatica is caused by pressure on or irritation of the nerve. Typically, you’ll feel a sharp stabbing pain radiating from your lower back through your buttocks and down your leg. The pain often comes and goes and has been described as being like an electric shock. Usually, it affects only one leg and can make standing and sitting uncomfortable. The pain often becomes worse with movement, or when sneezing or coughing. If you sit for a long time, symptoms can intensify.

Many episodes of sciatica resolve after a few weeks. Chronic sciatica develops if the pain doesn’t subside after eight weeks. The condition is incredibly common, with as many as 40% of people suffering from sciatic pain at least once in their lives.

What Causes Sciatica?

Sciatic pain can arise from several circumstances causing the nerve to be compressed or become inflamed. The most common cause is a herniated spinal disc. This occurs when the rubbery cushion sitting between the vertebrae of your spine bulges out and presses on your sciatic nerve.

Sciatica can also be caused by a condition known as lumbar spinal stenosis. This is a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower part of the back compressing the sciatic nerve. It often occurs with age. If one of the bones in the spine slips out of place, or spurs of bone form, these can press on the nerve, too.

Sometimes, spasms of the piriformis muscle, a small muscle stretching from your hip to your femur and crossing your sciatic nerve, cause the muscle to press on the nerve. Degenerative diseases of the spine like osteoarthritis, or inflammation of the nerve can also cause sciatic pain.

Generally, sciatic pain is worsened by a sedentary lifestyle and lack of stretching after exercise. Over time, the sciatic nerve can become damaged. 

Conventional treatment includes painkillers or steroid injections, often combined with physiotherapy to correct any underlying muscle tension and prevent sciatic pain from recurring.

Can Bacterial Infections Cause Sciatic Pain?

Some researchers believe sciatic pain may be related to bacterial infections. Scientists have discovered certain types of bacteria present in herniated vertebral discs 1. It’s thought these bacteria cause chronic, low-level inflammation in the discs. Bacteria could potentially gain access to the disc if it’s damaged by trauma, or from the blood vessels supplying the disc if they are more permeable than they should be.

Certain chemicals can irritate your sciatic nerve, including fragments of substances leaking out of herniated discs. These may stimulate your immune system to overreact, leading to nerve inflammation. Uncontrolled oxidative stress not quenched by sufficient antioxidants in your diet can cause inflammation throughout your body, including your sciatic nerve.

Natural Support for Sciatic Pain

Nature is full of wonderful anti-inflammatory nutrients. Curcumin, a substance found in turmeric, has been researched specifically in connection with its ability to promote the repair of damaged sciatic nerves 2. Potent anti-inflammatory nutrients also acting as antioxidants to arrest free radical damage include vitamin E, Zinc and Vitamin C.

Omega 3 fats, found in oily fish and some nuts and seeds are important for nourishing the fatty protective sheath around your nerves. Research has found these fats can help nerve cells to repair after damage 3.

Vitamin D is not only important to help regulate inflammation and immune function, but receptors for vitamin D have been found in nerves, too.

One-to-One Support to Overcome Sciatica

If you would benefit from support in managing your sciatic pain, I can help. Your body is an integrated whole, each part affecting the others, so I aim to discover the causes of your pain. Functional tests can detect any chronic inflammation, nutrient deficiencies and bacterial infections.

Anti-inflammatory nutrients, herbs and foods, personalised to your situation, will then be recommended, along with appropriate exercises and lifestyle choices to help relieve pressure on your sciatic nerve. Contact Embracing Nutrition today to discover more about natural support for sciatic pain.

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Are you concerned about the health of your bowel? Why not book a free 15 minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.

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