Sciatic nerve pain occurs when the sciatic nerve is irritated or injured. The sciatic nerve is the thickest and longest nerve in your body, and it runs all the way from your lower back down through your legs. While direct injuries to the sciatic nerve are rare, sciatic nerve pain can result from other medical issues or injuries. Along with pain - which can run all the way from your lower back down to your toes - it can also cause weakness in the legs and feet, numbness, and tingling sensations. Sciatic nerve pain can be severe or even debilitating. If you're suffering from siatic nerve pain relief might seem impossible. You may be searching for sciatic nerve natural remedies as well as other ways to find relief.
What are the Risk Factors for Sciatic Nerve Pain?
Anyone can develop sciatica, but your risks increase if you:
- Are older: As you age, the discs and bone tissue in your spine naturally wear down.
- Are overweight: Being overweight or obese will put excess pressure on your spine, which can lead to sciatic nerve pain.
- Have a back or spine injury: Lower back or spine injuries can increase the risk of sciatica.
- Have weak core muscles: A strong core helps support your spine and the muscles in your back. When your core muscles are weak, this increases the risk of spinal issues and the development of sciatica.
- Have osteoarthritis: This condition can damage your spine and increase the risk of injury to your nerves.
- Have diabetes: This condition increases the risk of nerve damage.
- Smoke: Nicotine can damage tissue in the spine, cause the discs in your spine to wear down faster, and weaken your bones.
- Lead a sedentary lifestyle: Excessive sitting and lack of exercise can increase the risk of sciatica. Office jobs further contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.
What Causes Sciatic Nerve Pain?
Along with the risk factors above, there are several other things that can cause sciatica, including:
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows, leaving little room for the nerves and spinal cord. This puts pressure on the nerves, causing pain in the process.
Degenerative Disc Disease
With degenerative disc disease, the discs between your vertebrae naturally wear down and narrow nerve passageways. This narrowing can pinch or put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
A herniated disc can put pressure on your sciatic nerve, and this is the most common cause of sciatic nerve pain. Up to 5% of people will have a herniated disc at some point in their lives. It occurs when pressure from the vertebrae causes the cushiony center of the disc to bulge. When this happens in the lower back, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
When tumors develop on the spine, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief: What are Your Options?
Sciatic nerve pain can be mild or so severe that it becomes debilitating. Finding relief isn't always easy, and many people have to try several things before they find something that works. However, there are many natural remedies and therapies out there that may help bring you some relief from your pain.
Sciatic Nerve Natural Remedies
These natural remedies may help you achieve siatic nerve pain relief:
Inflammation may contribute to the pain and discomfort you're feeling. Anti-inflammatory topicals can help bring some relief without any negative side effects. While these topicals aren't a long-term cure, they can give you some short-term relief and help you get on with your regular daily routine.
Some effective pain-relieving topicals include:
When used individually or together, these topicals have the power to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain at the source.
Here's what the research says:
- CBD: A 2019 study looked at the effects of CBD on mice with sciatic nerve injuries. The study found that the CBD was effective at reducing pain. There's also anecdotal evidence that CBD can be helpful for sciatic nerve pain. CBD's potential pain-relieving properties may have to do with its anti-inflammatory effects.
- Magnesium: Research shows that magnesium may help promote sciatic nerve regeneration and reduce the inflammatory response. Magnesium helps soothe irritated nerves and relaxes the body. Many of us are deficient in this crucial mineral, but it can be absorbed through the skin.
- DMSO: There is some evidence that DMSO (a byproduct of the paper-making process) can alleviate pain when applied topically.
- Essential oils: Research shows that essential oils may also be helpful with alleviating pain, including nerve pain. Many compounds in essential oils have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that may help with pain relief.
The benefit of topical remedies is that they can be applied directly to the painful area, whether it's the lower back, the legs, or the entire area. As long as they are applied properly, the risk of side effects is minimal. Essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation or other potential side effects.
Heat and Ice Packs
Alternating between heat and cold therapy may help with sciatic nerve pain. These therapies offer temporary pain relief, and they can often be combined with topicals to bring relief faster.
It's important to remember that while you may feel some relief, hot and cold therapy won't address the inflammation going on inside of your body. When combined with topicals and other therapies, hot and cold therapy may be a great way to get immediate relief for your nerve pain.
A centuries-old traditional medicine practice may also be helpful for sciatic nerve pain. Acupuncture has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, but new research shows that it may be helpful for nerve pain.
A 2009 study involving 90 sciatica patients found that acupuncture sessions helped reduce symptoms.
When you're in pain, the last thing you want to do is exercise. Some days, it can be hard to get out of bed when you have sciatic nerve pain. However, on the days when you feel good, make it a point to stay active. Research suggests that exercise, stretching, and generally staying active can help keep your body loose and prevent stiffness that can aggravate back and leg pain.
Exercise can strengthen core muscles, which help you maintain a healthy, strong spine. Staying active also triggers the release of endorphins, which help reduce your perception of pain.
Choose gentle exercises, and start with short sessions. A simple walk around the block or a gentle yoga session in your living room can help bring some relief and may even help reduce your symptoms over time.
Regular massages can help alleviate sciatic pain while also improving your range of motion and reducing tension. Your massage therapist can target painful areas to help encourage blood flow to these areas and reduce pain.
Research from 2008 found that massages targeting the lower spine, leg, thighs, and pelvis may help bring relief from or eliminate sciatica symptoms.
Finding sciatic nerve pain relief is often a process of trial and error. The great thing about natural remedies is that there are few (or no) side effects to worry about, and you can try different remedies back-to-back to see what works best.