By Neepa Sevak
If you are feeling pain in your lower back or hip that radiates down from your buttock to the back of one thigh and into your leg, then you might be suffering from Sciatica. Sciatica is the term given to low back pain which travels in the distribution of the sciatic nerve and is caused due to compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the human body which runs from each side of the lower spine through deep in the rear and back of the thigh, and all the way down to the foot, connecting the spinal cord with the leg and foot muscles.
Symptoms of Sciatica
- Usually sciatica affects one side of the body.
- Radiating pain from lower back through the back of the thigh and down through the leg to the foot or toes.
- Pain may be constant or intermittent, dull, sharp, shooting, burning or tingling sensation.
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot.
- Everyday activity like walking, sitting and standing may be painful and difficult.
- Coughing and sneezing can increase the pain.
- Losing control of bowel or bladder – this is a sign of Cauda Equina Syndrome which is an emergency situation and requires immediate medical attention.
Causes of Sciatica
Any condition that compresses the sciatic nerve causing sciatica pain is listed below:
- Herniated lumbar discs: Is the most common cause of sciatica in the lumbar spine.
- Degenerative Disc Disease: Aging is known to cause disc weakness further causing disc herniation. Some genetic predisposition may also make you prone to disk problems.
- Diabetes: affects the way your body uses blood sugar, making you more likely to develop nerve damage.
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: is narrowing of one or more neural passageways in the lower spine due to disc degeneration and/or facet arthritis.
- Isthmic Spondylolisthesis: results from a stress fracture at the 5th lumbar vertebra. The fracture combined with disc space collapse may allow the vertebra to slip forward on the first sacral segment causing the L5 nerve root (look in the picture above) to become pinched as it leaves the spine.
- Piriformis syndrome: Running directly above the sciatic nerve, the Piriformis muscle starts at your lower spine and connects to each thighbone. Piriformis syndrome occurs when the muscle becomes tight or goes into spasms, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Active runners and walkers, prolonged sitting, car accidents and falls may contribute to this condition.
- Trauma: A car accident, fall or blow to the spine can injure the lumbar or sacral nerve roots. Also your occupation that requires you to twist your back, carry heavy loads or drive a motor vehicle for long periods makes you more prone to develop sciatica.
- Spinal Tumors and Infections are rare disorders that may compress the sciatic nerve.
- Sciatic nerve tumor or injury: Although uncommon, the sciatic nerve itself may be affected by a tumor or injury, leading to sciatic pain.
- Other causes: In some cases, no cause may be found. A number of problems can affect the bones, joints and muscles, all of which could possibly result in sciatic pain.
Homeopathic Approach to Sciatica
Homeopathy is the only form of treatment that has shown an overwhelming positive response in treating sciatica. Constitutionally prescribed homeopathic remedies can effectively and permanently reduce pain and other
Symptoms of Sciatica.
Homeopathic medicines treat by strengthening our vital force which is an intelligent energy principle in our body that balances many functions and provides protection from illness. Homeopathic treatment being based on the hypothesis of "like cures like" and a deep emphasis on the principles of holistic medicine (treat the whole person), its remedies work by stimulating the body's own healing power by introducing tiny doses of natural substances that stimulates a person's immune system and defense system to correct itself naturally. Due to the individualized constitutional approach of homeopathy a remedy which matches all of your symptoms will stimulate your vital force to restore balance and health. Homeopathic remedies are gentle and easy to take and are regulated by the FDA and formulated according to the homeopathic pharmacopia of the United States.
Self Care Measures
Along with homeopathic treatment these self care measures can help relieve the symptoms of sciatica and also prevent recurrence.
- Cold and hot packs. Use alternate cold and hot packs to reduce swelling and relieve discomfort.
- Practice good posture. Stand up straight with your ears aligned with your shoulders, your shoulders aligned with your hips and your buttocks tucked in. Your knees should be bent slightly.
- Regular exercise: improves flexibility and helps prevent age-related degenerative changes in your back.
- Lift objects safely. Always lift from a squatting position, using your hips and legs to do the heavy work. Never bend over and lift with a straight back.
- Avoid sitting or standing for extended periods. If you sit at work, take regular breaks to stand and walk around. If you must be on your feet, prop one foot on a small block or footrest, and then switch feet throughout the day.
- Use proper sleeping posture. Take pressure off your back by sleeping on your side or on your back with a pillow under your knees.
- Avoid wearing high heels. Shoes with heels that are more than 1½ inches high shift your weight forward, throwing the body out of alignment.
- Do abdominal crunches. These exercises strengthen the abdominal muscles that help to support your lower back. Lie with your back on the floor, hands behind your head and knees bent. Press your lower back to the floor, lift your shoulders up about 10 inches off the floor, and then lower them. Repeat 10 to 20 times daily.
- Lay in the face down position and clasp your hands behind the lower back, then raise the head and chest slightly against gravity while looking at the floor.
- In the above position with the head and chest lowered to the floor, lightly raise an arm and opposite leg slowly, with the knee locked, 2-3 inches from the floor.
- Stretch. Sit in a chair and bend down toward the floor. Stop when you feel just slight discomfort, hold for 30 seconds, then release. Repeat six to eight times.
- Lay on the back and gently pull the knees to the chest until a comfortable stretch is felt.
- Walk/swim. Walking and swimming can help to strengthen your lower back.
Hence, every individual suffering from sciatica must consider homeopathy to provide relief and lifetime cure. Homeopathic treatment can change a person’s life from one of distress to one of health.