Home Remedies for Treating Sciaitica

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Does sciatica sound painful? If it does it’s because it is. Sciatica (or sciatic nerve pain) occurs when the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed. He sciatic nerve is located in the lower back. It only affects this area of the back but it can be very painful and debilitating. It is like having a pinched nerve but only it is in your back. It is very hard to bend over and it can be painful to walk, sit , or do any kind of moving around. It may even be hard to sleep at night. It is accompanied by tingling, burning down the affected hard. It is extremely hard to sit down or stand up and numbness and weakness travel down the affected leg. Most of the time the sciatica is caused by a herniated disc, slipped disc, back injury, infection, degenerative disc disease, pregnancy, spinal stenosis, isthmic spondylolisthesis and piriformis syndrome among others. In the asr of a herniated disc the disc will actually pinch the sciatic nerve causing great pain.  

There are many conventional treatments for sciatica but unfortunately they are short-term options that will only temporarily relieve the pain. Additionally, steroid injections can cause serious side effects. This all a person needs is to have side effects when they are in pain from sciatica. You can use natural remedies and home remedies to reduce pressure and inflammatory on the sciatic nerve. Usually the pain and condition will subside after 6 weeks. So, there is hope if you have this painful nerve condition. Here are some:

Hot or Cold Compress

Here we have it the universal fix a hot or cold compress but they really do work. Cold compresses will reduce swelling around the nerve and minimize pain.

You can also alternate heat and cold, starting with the hot compress and ending with the cold compress. When using heat, use moist heat like a steamed towel as it is more effective.

Instructions:

  • Place a hot or cold pack on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Do this every few hours until you get relief.

Note: Do not use cold compresses if you have circulatory problems.

Turmeric

Here is turmeric showing up again as a healing agent. But it is able to help with sciatica. It has anti-inflammatory properties it can help with sciatica pain and pressure. It is a natural remedy that can help with sciatica. It contains a compound called circumin which can help to reduce nerve pain and inflammatory.

Instructions:

  • Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric to 1 cup of milk. You can also add a small cinnamon stick. Boil the solution. Sweeten this healthy drink with honey and drink it once or twice daily until you see improvement.
  • Another option is to take 250 to 500 mg turmeric supplements 3 times a day for several weeks. Consult your doctor first.

Note: Turmeric may not be suitable for those taking blood thinners or diabetes medications. Those suffering from gallstones should also avoid it.

Massage

massaging can help relieve sciatica pain and help the body heal itself

It’s believed that massaging can help relieve sciatica pain and help the body heal itself. This especially true if the painis caused by a muscle spasm. It will also release tension, help the blood to circulate and increased the range of motion.

Instructions:

  • Massage the affected area with St. John’s wort oil 2 or 3 times a day until you get relief. St John’s wort has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve sciatica pain and inflammation.
  • Another option is to add 3 tablespoons of nutmeg powder to 1 cup of sesame oil. Heat the mixture. Allow it to cool and massage the affected area with it when it is comfortably warm. Do this a few times a day for a few weeks.
  • You can also consider trigger-point massage therapy at least once daily. Pain in the lower back, buttocks and side of the thighs is often associated with trigger points in the gluteus medius and minimus muscles.

Exercises

This could be the most common sense approach of all to relieving sciatica pain. Physical activity along with rest can help sciatica pain. A day or two after a sciatica flare up, you can start a regular exercise program to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles. Strengthening the core muscles helps facilitate quick recovery.

Instructions:

You can do Knee to Chest Stretch to help reduce the irritation of the sciatic nerve and improve flexibility of your lower back.

  1. Lie on your back on a mat with your feet straight and hip-width apart.
  2. Keep your upper body relaxed and bend your right knee upwards with an inhale.
  3. Clasp your hands behind the thigh and gently pull it towards your chest as far as is comfortable.
  4. Keep the other leg flat on the surface.
  5. Hold this position for 20 seconds with controlled deep breaths and then lower your leg gently.
  6. Switch legs and repeat.
  7. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
  8. Finally do this exercise with both the legs 3 to 5 times.

You can also do exercises like spinal rolling, knees rocking, floor twists, back block, back extensions, sciatic-mobilizing stretches and certain yoga poses like the cat-cow pose and pigeon pose to help relieve sciatica and lower back pain. You can try spinal decompression exercises as well.

Note: Consult your doctor to help implement the right exercise program for your case.

Capsaicin Cream

Cayenne powder contains an active called capsaicin which acts as a natural pain reliever. It helps deplete the levels of a neurotransmitter called substance P., which transports pain signals.

Instructions:

  1. Buy a cream or ointment containing 0.025% to 0.075% capsaicin.
  2. Apply it on the affected area up to 4 times a day, at least for 1 week.

Note: Capsaicin cream or ointment may cause a burning sensation initially. Do not apply it on broken skin.

Valerian Tea

It is claimed that drinking valerian tea will help relieve sciatic nerve pain. The theory says to drink it several times a day for a few weeks and it should help to relieve the pain. It is a natural relaxant and relieves chronic pain. It is good for relieving sciatic pain caused  by muscle spasm.

Instructions:

The herb contains volatile oils that help relax your muscles and ease tension. It is popularly used as a sleeping aid as well.

  • Take 150 mg of valerian root supplement 3 times a day for a few weeks. Consult your doctor first.
  • You can also drink valerian tea prepared by steeping 1 teaspoon of dried valerian root in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Drink this herbal tea several times a week for a few weeks.

What White Willow Bark

So what are we supposed to go out and eat trees now to help relieve sciatic nerve pain. We are two-legged humans not four-legged animals that eat bark off trees. Aside from that it is said that white willow bark can help sciatic nerve pain. It can be used for long-lasting pain relief. It contains phenolic glycosides with salicin, supplying anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties to help in relieving sciatic nerve pain.

Instructions:

Take a white willow bark supplement of 120 or 240 mg salicin daily for several weeks. Consult your doctor first. Please note that you should consult your doctor before applying this treatment.

Fenugreek Seeds

fenugreek seeds are said to help relieve sciatica nerve pain

No, this is not bird seed or food you serve to your parrot. But fenugreek seeds are said to help relieve sciatica nerve pain. A poultice (a soft, moist mass of material, typically of plant material or flour, applied to the body to relieve soreness and inflammation and kept in place with a cloth.)  

prepared from fenugreek seeds can help relieve sciatic nerve pain. It has anti-inflammatory properties that will help relieve the pain. It can also soothe rheumatoid arthritis and gout pain a couple extra health benefits thrown in there.   

Instructions:

  1. Grind a handful of fenugreek seeds.
  2. Boil the powder with enough milk to get a mushy paste.
  3. Apply it on the aching area as a poultice.
  4. Leave it on for a few hours before rinsing it off.
  5. Repeat daily until you get relief.

Ouch Acupuncture

It seems like sticking needles into the body would cause more pain than the sciatic nerve itself. But it is said that acupuncture can help with sciatic nerve pain. It is supposed to relax the muscles, relieve sciatic pain, and help the body heal. It seems like it would make the muscles  tense instead of relaxing them after having been pierced by needles. But it appears the opposite effect occurs the muscles relax.

Information:  

Another theory is that by stimulating certain acupuncture points, the central nervous system is also stimulated, in turn triggering the release of chemicals that either change the perception of pain or produce a sense of well-being.

A 2009 study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that warmed acupuncture with heated needles helped improve sciatica pain. In fact, 17 of the 30 participants got complete relief from sciatica after acupuncture therapy.

Always have acupuncture therapy performed by a skilled and experienced acupuncturist. If you apply this natural remedy make sure a skilled acupuncturist is providing the treatment. An inexperienced person treating you with acupuncture could cause harmful damage to your body.

Spinal Manipulation  

make sure a professionally trained chiropractor treats you for spinal manipulation

This is a tricky maneuver and you should make sure a professionally trained chiropractor treats you for spinal manipulation. Needless to say if the spinal manipulation is done incorrectly it cause permanent damage to the spine. Chiropractic care is becoming very popular as a natural remedy for back and neck pain. It is also an expensive treatment. But it seems to have good effects on people’s neck and back pain.    

Information:

Chiropractic spinal manipulation includes different techniques involving rapid, short thrusts to alleviate nerve irritability responsible for inflammation and other symptoms associated with sciatica.A 2010 study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulation benefited 60% of the study participants suffering from sciatica to the same degree as a surgical intervention could have provided.

Consult a doctor of chiropractic medicine for proper treatment, depending on the exact cause of your sciatica pain.

Helpful Tips:

  • Do not make sudden movements.
  • Adopt a good posture to relieve pressure on your lower back.
  • Practice proper lifting techniques with your back straight and knees bent.
  • Sleep on a mattress that is neither too firm nor too soft.
  • Get regular exercise, but do not engage in intense exercise.
  • Avoid cigarette smoking as it promotes disc degeneration.
  • Try other herbal remedies, such as devil’s claw (1,500 to 2,000 mg twice daily). An alcohol-based extract prepared from the leaves of parijat, also called harshiangar (scientific name, Nyctanthes arbor tristis), has also been found useful in treating sciatica.These herbs have anti-inflammatory and tranquilizing properties. Devil’s claw may interfere with certain medications and may not be suitable for those suffering from peptic ulcers. Before taking an herbal remedy, check with your doctor for advice on dosage and suitability.
  • Consider taking vitamin C, calcium and magnesium supplements after consulting your doctor.

Stop Strenuous Gym Workouts

Exercises. This could be the most common sense approach of all to relieving sciatica pain

Contrary to the tip given above this source recommends you cut out strenuous gym workouts when you have sciatic nerve pain. It is said that exercise is good but engaging in hard physical exercise while you have sciatic nerve pain can be very unproductive.  Gym equipment is designed to produce repetitive motion while the body workouts. This limits a lot of natural physical movement. So if a person has sciatic nerve pain and they workout with gym equipment they could cause the nerve injury to be aggravated.  This will only increase inflammation and produce more extensive back injuries. Upper body workouts can  strain the lower back; So instead of working out in the gym try some naturally exercising such as walking, running, or swimming. Lifting weights will really put a strain on the lower back.

Stretch that Pain Away

You may be hesitant to stretch out with sciatic nerve pain.  But avoiding heavy stretching exercises is advisable. But don’t let lower back pain stop you from stretching out on a lighter basis. These types of exercises for stretching the lower back and legs may bring some relief to sciatic nerve pain. It can resolve the underlying  problem which is stress put on the Piriformis muscle and the hamstring. Light stretching should take the strain off these parts of the body which will relieve sciatic-type symptoms.. It is said almost 80% of sciatic cases are due to Piriformis syndrome. (Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle, located in the buttock region, spasms and causes buttock pain. The piriformis muscle can also irritate the nearby sciatic nerve and cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot (similar to sciatic pain). According to this definition piriformis syndrome is like sciatic nerve pain but is not the actual cause of sciatic nerve pain. So to say that almost 80% of sciatic nerve pain is because of piriformis syndrome simply is not the case. They are unrelated conditions.

Nature’s Pain Relief

You guessed it e are about to delve into the realm of natural painkillers. If we have pain in a particular part of the body movements in that part of the body became extremely limited and awkward. Our natural inclination is to keep the injured part of the body immobile. But the exact opposite is true that part of the body needs to be moved. This will increased blood circulation thereby facilitating healing. Often painkillers are given for sciatica -related pain.  But you may consider some natural remedies instead. Devil”s Claw is a herbal extract   that contains iridoid glycosides especially harpagoside have a strong anti-inflammatory effect on sciatic pain. This herbal extract is highly recommended for lower back pain. Ginger tea and turmeric milk are known to be excellent anti-inflammatory agents as well.

Rolfing Anyone

This is a procedure called “Structural Integration” developed by Ida P. Rolf  to eliminate deep-lying problems by controlling the connective tissue layer called fascia. The skin beneath the skin covers the entire body; By stimulating it i claimed to affect our energy field and bring about healing. This is branded as pseudoscience which is extremely accurate. Despite this “label” some with sciatic pain claim it works. It should be said here that  this method has no scientific basis to support it. This treatment should not be taken seriously.

Abdominal Support

What are known as Specially designed lumbosacral belts can offer extra support for the lower back area.  Use it whenever you engage in an exercise that involves lifting or bendig this may prevent sciatic-related injuries.

The Grand Finale

You don’t have to live with sciatic nerve pain

You don’t have to live with sciatic nerve pain. We have explored several home remedies that can relieve sciatic nerve pain. Why suffer when there are plenty of traditional and natural treatments available to reduce and eliminate sciatic nerve pain?  Some of the methods described in this article are very cost-effective others such as chiropractic treatments are not.  You must consider all your options and select the one or ones that will work the most efficiently for your budget and your body. Just know you don’t have to suffer with sciatic nerve pain for the rest of your life.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.