The Sciatic Nerve is a big long nerve that runs on the outside back of the leg. If there is any impingement, inflammation or compression of the nerve itself, or the nerve casing, it is referred to as Sciatica. The experience of this problem can be varied and is sometimes hard to diagnose specifically, yet at the same time, the term is applied to a wide range of pains starting anywhere from the lower back moving down the leg(s).
The types of pains people experience can be any combination of heat, cold, sharp and sudden, dull and constant, shooting down the leg, pulsing or erratic. Some people find that the problems can be related to to back problems such as inflammation of spinal disks or muscles around the spine, or it may start in or around the hips, or sometimes in the hamstring (back of the leg) area. This is not even necessarily a complete list of causes and manifestations of sciatica, but it does give an idea of how varied the problems that can all fit under one title can be.
Having suffered from sciatica many years ago, and having had many of the symptoms appearing at different times, I have a very good idea of how much it can interfere with living life and being functional. I have worked with a number of people who have suffered with different manifestations of sciatica, and there is a generally resigned attitude that comes with it.
One man I worked with had inflammation of a vertebral disk in the lower back that caused him pain that was manifesting all the way down his legs. It was so severe that he had been seeing an orthopaedic surgeon, and was considering having back surgery, but was hoping to avoid it. In hope of relieving the pain that was so severe he could not drive or sit at a desk, and even walking was painful, which was quite a problem due to the nature of his job. Out of a combination of desperation and curiosity, he decided to try a series of sessions with me. After 5 sessions, in a little under 3 weeks, he went back to see the surgeon who was amazed by the progress and speed of his healing. The inflammation was almost gone, he could sit comfortably, and he was able to walk with relative ease, and even drive short distances. The surgeon had estimated 6 months to regaining his normal lifestyle, after 3 weeks of completely natural, drug free and holistic therapy, he had recovered about 80%.
Interestingly, there are a few simple things that a person can do that can ease some of the symptoms of sciatica. Obviously, I request that you use common sense with all of these, if they make any symptoms worse, stop using them. For finding pressure points I mention, you will know you have found them, because they will be uncomfortable and you really wont need to use much pressure when rubbing or massaging them. This is by no means a complete list of approaches, but the simplest for self applied methods.
Stretching - please be extremely careful and gentle with yourself on this. Stretching can be very valuable and reduce pain, but if pushed too far, or at non-beneficial angles, you can hurt yourself more. If you know your stretches you probably already know what I am talking about, if not, you may want to have a private session with a good personal trainer, pilates teacher, yoga teacher or the like.
1. stretch your legs - gentle stretches of the hamstrings, front thighs, inner thighs and outer thighs - you may well find that the area of the knees and legs below the knees will feel stretched at the same time. Be particularly careful with any stretch you feel in your knees.
2. stretch your lower back - very carefully and gently.
1. side of thighs: using the heel of your hand, starting around the top of the thigh bone, rubbing down towards the kneed, gently rub down, the correct line will vary a little from person to person, but you will know yours as it will be sensitive and tender.
2. just below the hip on the outside, there is a soft spot that is tender, and if massaged, can reduce pains in the hips, and down the thighs.
3. in the middle of the buttock (imagine the buttock as a circle, and the very centre of that circle is the spot) you can either lie on your back and place your fists under your bottom and lie on them, or use a tennis ball under each cheek.
Detoxification and alkalising the body can also be very beneficial in reducing pain. A few very simple things you can do to help your body alkalise. (in fairness, I recommend this for almost any disorder or imbalance in the body :) )
1. Add the juice of 1 fresh lemon to a mug of warm water each morning when you wake.
2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinager to a cup of warm water 1-3 times a day.
3. Eat more dark green leaves.
4. Reduce your intake of any processed foods.
5. Reduce your intake of animal products.
6. Reduce your intake of sugars.