Anyone who has experienced ‘sciatica nerve’ pain, knows it hurts, hurts, hurts. It is debilitating pain. So, exactly what is ‘SCIATICA’?

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My handy Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary says this – “sciatica pertains to the hips or ischium. The sciatica nerve is the largest nerve in the body, arising from the sacral plexus either side, passing from the pelvis through the greater sciatic foramen, down the back of the thigh, where it divides into tibial and peroneal nerves. Lesions cause paralysis of flexion and adduction of toes, abduction and adduction of toes, rotation inward and adduction of foot; plantar flexion and lowering of ball of foot; paralysis of dorsal flexion and adduction of foot; rotation of ball of foot outward and of raising external border of foot and of extension of toes; also anesthesia in cutaneous distribution.”

The usual terminology is ‘SCIATICA’ – simplified it is described as ‘severe pain in the leg along the course of the sciatic nerve felt at back of thigh running down the inside of the leg.’ Compression or trauma of the sciatic nerve or its roots, especially that resulting from ruptured intervertebral disk or osteoarthrosis of lumbosacral vertebrae. Inflammation of the sciatic nerve results from metabolic, toxic, or infectious disorders. The discomfort may begin abruptly or gradually and is characterized by a sharp shooting pain running down the back of the thigh. Movement of the limb generally intensifies the suffering. Pain may be uniformly distributed along the limb or infrequently in certain spots. Numbness and/or tingling may be felt; the nerve may be extremely sensitive to touch. Symptoms usually grow worse at night and on the approach of stormy weather. Duration of a sciatic attack varies from a few days to several months. In longstanding cases, muscles grow atrophied and/or rigid. Treatment should be started early in order to have an early recovery.

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Treatments vary from surgical to plain old exercise. Surgical intervention takes place if there is damage due to a ruptured intervertebral disk. Exercise programs are important for any sciatic treatment plan. It includes stretching and strengthening parts of the body that may be causing irritation of the sciatic nerve. The underlying cause of sciatic nerve pain dictates the course of exercise applied, since you are dealing with the discs and the spine. Rest is important, to keep the body relaxed, which in turn allows it to heal. If it hurts while exercising, decrease the stress of the exercise or stop immediately. NOTE: it is important that you do not become completely bed bound due to the sciatic pain. Lying in bed for more than 2 days or prolonged periods of time has been shown to make the sciatica worse.

Other treatments include improving your general health by balancing your diet with good nourishing food. Drink more water. When you are dehydrated, parts of the spine become deflated causing more pressure on the sciatic nerve.  AVOID INFLAMMATORY FOODS – especially anything with a high sugar content. A great food, but not good for some folks is peanuts. Peanuts contain a lot of magnesium which is crucial for allowing muscles to relax.

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For you who are allergic to peanuts choose other food with a high magnesium content, or take a magnesium supplement. Herbal supplements can include Tumeric (high quality), and I have found a good foot massage helps as well.

All of the above will keep you from using prescribed methods of pain killers to include Morphine and Demerol or any of the newest pain killers on the market that contribute to the opioid epidemic that is consuming our nation. The afore-mentioned treatments can be effective, but you should not just choose random treatments for your pain. It is important that you choose the right treatment for the underlying CAUSE OF YOUR SCIATICA,  in order for there to be a healing process and/or improvement. Last, but not least, BE PATIENT. Sciatica Nerve pain healing does not just happen overnight. The amount of time it takes depends on the cause of your pain and your committment to getting well.

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