Sciatica is a fairly common condition. In fact, some health professionals say that up to 40 percent of people will have sciatica at some point in their life. This condition happens when the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body, becomes compressed. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including a herniated disc, an infection that affects the spine, pregnancy, or an injury to the spine. Most people with sciatica experience radiating pain or tingling along the nerve's pathway after sitting in one position for too long. Others feel it at various times throughout the day. Sciatica can either be acute or chronic.
For those who have chronic sciatica, surgery or pain medications may help, depending on the cause. Some people can alleviate sciatic nerve pain with the following types of natural treatment.
1. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy at a clinic such as Hands-On Physical Therapy can help to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve, which reduces pain and discomfort caused by sciatica. Many physical therapists will recommend doing certain stretches at home to reduce pain and to prevent it from occurring in the future.
These stretches will help to strengthen the spinal column and stretch the muscles affected by sciatic pain. Physical therapists might also recommend applying cold or heat to reduce inflammation caused by the compressed nerve.
2. Chiropractic Care
Many people with sciatica have success in treating their condition by going to the chiropractor. When a chiropractor adjusts the spine, it helps to relieve pressure from the sciatic nerve. Another type of chiropractic treatment that is often used to treat sciatica includes a TENS unit, which helps to reduce sciatic pain. Chiropractors also use ultrasound therapy in order to decrease swelling and reduce the frequency of muscle cramps, which can lead to sciatic pain.
3. Trigger-Point Massage Therapy
There are different types of massage therapy that can help with a variety of ailments. One type of massage that can help specifically with sciatica is called trigger-point therapy. During this type of massage, a massage therapist applies pressure to certain parts of the body that are irritated or inflamed, which are also called trigger points.
One of the primary trigger points for sciatica is the piriformis muscle. The sciatic nerve is located directly underneath this muscle. Along with applying pressure to the piriformis muscle, a massage therapist will also massage the muscles in the lower back, as well as the muscles in the buttocks, which are other muscles that are affected by sciatica.