What causes sciatic nerve pain?
The two sciatic nerves are the longest nerves found in the body. These nerves run through the spine and down each leg supplying signals to our thighs, lower legs, and feet. The roots of these nerves lay within the lower, lumbar region of the back and due to pinching of these roots, the nerve may become inflamed causing sciatica or sciatic nerve pain.
The main cause of sciatica is thought to be long term sitting or laying on the buttocks due to prolonged pressure. It is thought to effect from 1 to 10% of the population and doesn’t tend to be a result of a specific injury or incident.
Treatment of Sciatic Nerve Pain
While some cases may require surgery, over 50% of people will heal on their own within six weeks. Within the first few days, icing is recommended and trying to stay as active as possible will optimize recovery time.
Tennis balls can produce therapeutic benefits by relieving muscle aching and improve circulation. This treatment is conducted by placing one or more tennis balls directly under tense or aching muscles.
Move your body over the tennis balls in order to find tender areas known as “trigger points” before applying more pressure to these areas for up to 20 seconds. While this can be effective, it may cause intense pain and it is important not to worsen the injury .
Watch the video below to learn how to do it:
While physical therapy may be beneficial, studies show that this method is not the most effective one. Instead, medications, epidural injections, and disc surgery are thought to be the most effective methods of treatment. However, manipulative therapy and acupuncture are found to be equally useful methods .
Manipulative therapy is performed by a therapist who will manipulate the body and usually “pop” or “crack” the back. This treatment takes pressure off sensitive nerves and tissues, improves circulation, reduces tension and promotes the release of our natural pain relieving chemicals such as endorphins .
Acupuncture can be used to promote blood circulation, reduce muscle spasms and inflammation, relax muscles and may improve flexibility. This treatment involves placing small needles in the areas causing the most discomfort.
Diet can also be a vital role in managing sciatic nerve pain as inflammation can be relieved or promoted based upon the foods we eat.
Studies have shown a relationship between high fiber diets and reduced inflammation due to a reduction of the inflammation marker C-reactive protein found in the blood .
Inflammatory foods to avoid include red meats and both processed carbohydrates and fats such as soda, fries, and lard.