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Home > Sciatic Issues?
by Dave Foreman
Too many people suffer from this condition and generally the solution is relatively simple. To modern medicine, this condition seems to be rocket science. To a practitioner of natural medicine it is fundamental.
What is it?
Sciatica occurs when there is pain, numbness or tingling in the lower back or down one leg. This discomfort comes from pressure on the sciatic nerve as it leaves the spinal cord into the lower back. With more severe cases, people experience pain in one particular side of their buttocks and/or down their leg - sometimes all the way to the foot. For many of us, sciatic pain comes and goes. Here are some quick tips to addressing the onset of your lower back pain:
• Avoid sitting (or standing, depending on which causes more pain)
• Alternate between hot and cold on the effected area
• Get a massage
• Sleep on your side
• Wear low-heeled shoes
• Practice good posture while walking, standing and sitting
• Start your supplements
Before we get into the natural solutions, I want to explain what is usually happening with the body. Aside from trauma causing this condition, I usually associate the pain with the lower spine being out of alignment - but WHY? This problem is usually simple. A muscle group above the area of discomfort (usually on your buttocks on the side you have pain) is in spasm (contracting) and a muscle group below the area of discomfort (usually in the bladder region on the opposite side of the body from your pain) is in spasm. It is this tug-of-war that causes your spine to come out of alignment and pinches the nerve as it leaves your spine and in turn causes your sciatic pain.
Example: You have pain in your right hip and maybe even down your right leg. Usually a muscle high on your buttocks - I call it a hotspot - will be sensitive to moderate pressure with your thumb. This is one of the areas that needs to be relaxed or massaged. On the front side of your body on the left side down in the pelvic region you will find another hotspot. For most, this area is very low and somewhere near the bladder. This muscle group also requires massage. When these two muscle groups finally relax, the spine will go back into alignment and the pain will be resolved.
What causes these muscle spasms?
This is a great question, and the answer is: It depends. In Chinese medicine they say that lower back problems stem from one of two things: Bowel problems or bladder weakness. Too many times when I ask a sciatic pain sufferer if they have problems with one of these two areas the answer is yes. Examples of problems are:
•IBS-and related health challenges
•Bladder Infections (usually chronic or more than 2 per year)
• Overactive bladder
• Pregnancy (supplements mentioned in this article are not intended for use during pregnancy)
There are obviously other causes of sciatic pain (trauma, degenerative issues, etc), but these are where I usually begin. For those with trauma, my suggestions are the same; it just will take much longer to heal the body. If you get rid of the root of your problem, the body will heal itself.
The modern medicine approach is usually to address the inflammation and suppress the pain. My approach isn't much different except my treating inflammation is a temporary fix until my other support supplements take over. Let's take a look at how to fix your aching back.
I. Inflammation and Pain: I love the new product FlexNow or the supplement Zyflamend. Both of these supplements work on different aspects of fighting inflammation and can provide added benefit until my other recommendations take over. I also like the addition of fish oil to your inflammation fighting program. 2-3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids from fish can also give you the added support you need.
II. Relax the muscles:My herb of choice is Passion Flower (not standardized). Passion Flower possesses muscle relaxing properties. I recommend anywhere from 250-1500mg at bedtime. The higher dose is used to make sure you sleep well and relax the muscles. I follow this nighttime dose with a smaller dose (250-500mg) mid-morning and mid-afternoon (whatever that is based on your day). The lower dose will hopefully maintain some of the relaxation effect, but without the drowsiness associated with a higher (bedtime) dosage.
III. Massage: This is the key to a quick recovery. Supplements can do the trick, but to get the relief you want, going for a massage at least once a week will speed your recovery. Make sure to stress the importance of the two muscle areas I mentioned above. A quality massage therapist will already know what I am writing about.
IV. Treat the root of your problem: This means addressing what is really causing your problem. You probably don't have a back problem (unless it is from trauma) and need to resolve what is truly triggering your muscles and spine to react the way they are. Treat your bladder or bowel health issues naturally. If your problem stems from exercise, then change your workouts or make sure to stretch before and after. Whatever it is, take care of it naturally. Other issues such as being overweight, poor posture, bone spurs etc. should all be addressed in order to assure you of not having recurrent back problems.
Finally, you might also want to try one of these homeopathic remedies: Boerick & Tafel Sciatic Aid, Natra Bio Sciatica/Neuralgia or Natural Care Nerve Fix.
My 4-Pillars of Health are also important. Don't forget to get proper activity, eat right and take care of the mind/spirit component. You need to address all aspects of your health to truly be healthy. Please remember that in most cases your condition didn't happen overnight. It may take weeks in some cases to feel the relief you are seeking.