3 Ways to Successfully Treat Sciatica

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is an inflammation/ irritation of the sciatic nerve, the biggest and longest nerve in the body. Several nerve roots leave the spinal cord and exit through holes in the sacrum to then combine with the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is usually marked by pain, numbness or tingling on down through the nerve pathway, in this case usually beginning in the buttock region and typically running down the posterior side of the leg through the hamstrings, back of the knee, down the calf and oftentimes extending all the way to the outside of the foot.

What causes Sciatica?

There are many different causes when it comes to Sciatica. Oftentimes, sciatica comes as a result of Piriformis syndrome. The pirirformis muscle extends from the side of the sacrum to the top of the thigh bone at the hip joint, passing along the sciatic nerve en route. When the piriformis becomes too tight, it can compress and irritate the sciatic nerve. An action of the piriformis is to rotate the leg outward, so individuals who habitually stand with their toes turned outward often develop piriformis symdrome, as do runners and cyclists.

Another possible cause is a herniated or bulging lumbar intervertebral disc that compresses one of the nerve roots before it joins the sciatic nerve.

Other causes could include pressure from the uterus during pregnancy, a dislocated hip or osteoarthritis of the lumbosacral spine.

Personal Training

If the pain is very acute, it is usually recommended to only do light exercises and stretching. If the pain is not acute, strength training is then recommended. When there is a herniated (slipped) or bulging disc present in the lumbosacral area, it is very important to strengthen both the back muscles and the core to take extra strain and pressure off the low back. Oftentimes, the glutes and the piriformis muscles have to be worked as well, as tight muscles tend to be weak ones. The stronger your muscles are, the better able they are to do what they do best… support your entire body.

Massage

Massage typically works wonders for sciatica by relaxing and loosening the muscle fibers surrounding the nerve, lessening the irritation down the neural pathway. By loosening the muscles, especially the piriformis, we relieve the pressure and the nerve the space it needs to calm down and re-stabilize. Secondarily, massage increases blood flow which speeds healing to the local area, allowing fresh, oxygenated blood to be received in an area that prior to treatment, most likely had compromised blood flow.  Massage is strongly recommended be used as a preventative measure for anyone prone to sciatica such as runners, cyclists and women in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture uses a combination therapy of cupping or sliding cupping, which is the placement of glass cups on the body to create suction in the local area. Cupping increases blood flow, relaxes the affecting muscles and takes the pressure off the sciatic nerve by way of the suction component. Needling is then used both distally and in the local area, sometimes using electro-acupuncture, which sends a vibration down the length of the needle. Needle and electro application work to release the body’s won opioids (endorphins) to ease pain and work to shut down the pain response by exhausting the neural response down the sciatic nerve pathway.

A Successful Plan of Treatment:

By incorporating each of these 3 components, Personal Training, Massage and Acupuncture, this gives the opportunity for a speedy, sustainable recovery from sciatica.

Related posts:

About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

Share your thoughts