Sciatica nerve pain, sometimes referred to simply as sciatica, is pain that affects the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that extends from the low back through the back of each leg.
Sciatica is a type back pain with several tell-tale symptoms. If you have pain that radiates from your low back into your leg or low back pain that’s worse when you’re sitting down, you may be suffering from sciatica nerve pain. Tingling in the legs or pain in the hip may also be a result of issues with the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica Nerve Pain Causes
When the roots of the lower lumbar spine and sacrum are irritated, sciatica pain occurs. The irritation can be a result of spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or muscle spasms in the back or buttocks. But you don’t need to understand the anatomical reasons for the pain. In most cases, you’ll know when you have it!
Conditions such as being overweight, having a sedentary lifestyle, or wearing high heels often can exacerbate the pain. Sleeping on a mattress that is too hard or too soft can also cause or worsen pain from sciatic nerve irritation.
Medical Treatments for Sciatica Nerve Pain
If you see a doctor for treatment of sciatica nerve pain, the doctor may suggest over-the-counter or prescription pain killers, typically NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). Muscles relaxers may also be prescribed for the condition.
Chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, and (hopefully as a last resort) surgery are other medical treatments for sciatica nerve pain.
Self-Help for Sciatica Nerve Pain
There are a few things you can try on your own at home if you suffer from sciatica nerve pain. You can use a hot or cold compress or a topical pain reliever like capsaicin cream or Tiger Balm.
There are also some essential oils that may help relieve the pain. Lavender, chamomile, wintergreen, peppermint, and ginger are some suggestions. Some companies offer proprietary blends for pain relief, or you can search for recipes to create your own essential oil blends to ease the pain.
Stretching and Yoga for Sciatica
Stretching is also an important self-help tool for sciatica nerve pain. Here’s a good opportunity to use yoga poses for pain relief! Poses that are especially helpful to manage sciatica pain are spinal twists, including half twists, seated twists and supine twist.
Poses that open the hips, such as pigeon pose, are helpful as well. You can also try a standing forward bend with one foot crossed over the other for a deeper sciatic stretch.
Cow-facing pose may also be helpful, but it may be difficult to get into the full pose with acute pain from sciatica. If that’s the case, try a modified version with one leg extended straight and the other bent over and across the extended leg.
As with any type of chronic pain, if self-help exercises and remedies don’t seem to do the trick, it’s a good idea to talk to your medical provider. He or she may be able to help tailor a regimen for your specific situation.