When you suffer from pain sciatica (sciatica), your first reaction is to resort to painkillers, at least this is the first option that doctors recommend for relieving sciatica.
Certainly, painkillers are very effective in relieving the pain of sciatica, but there are various other therapies that contribute to the healing of this condition.
You will therefore find in this article a list of therapeutic options mainly comprising effective natural remedies to overcome your sciatica.
Sciatic Nerve Anatomy
Le sciatic nerve, also called the greater sciatic nerve, is the largest and longest nerve in the human body.
It is a so-called mixed peripheral nerve, because of its dual sensory and motor function of the two lower limbs.
The sciatic nerve comes from a plexus (branching network of nerves) called the "sacral plexus" which corresponds to the intersection of all the spinal nerves emanating from the spinal cord.
The spinal nerves giving rise to the sciatic nerve are the lumbar nerves L4 and L5 as well as the sacral nerves S1, S2 and S3.
From the sacral plexus, the sciatic nerve will follow a downward path, first in the gluteal region, passing between the "twin" muscles in front and the gluteus maximus muscle behind, then descends vertically behind the thigh. Arriving at the knee, the sciatic nerve branches into two secondary nerves: the external popliteal sciatic nerve (common fibular) and the internal popliteal sciatic nerve (tibialis).
The tibial nerve takes a posterior course at the level of the leg, then passes through the inner side of the ankle and ends in its two terminal branches at the level of the sole of the foot.
The common fibular nerve, on the other hand, descends along the fibula (fibula) and ends at its lower end, branching into two branches to innervate the back of the foot.
Definition of sciatica
Sciatica is the common name for sciatic pain, reflecting damage to the nerve bearing the same name (sciatic nerve). Sciatic pain is felt in the lower limb and results from inflammation, compression or pinching of the sciatic nerve.
The most common cause of sciatica is herniated disc, causing compression of the sciatic nerve or one of the spinal nerves at its origin. However, the sciatic nerve can be compressed or pinched by other causes, such as:
- spinal stenosis lumbar or narrow lumbar canal
- Piriformis syndrome
- Fracture of vertebrae lumbar
- Lumbar osteoarthritis
Symptoms of sciatica
The exact location of the pain depends on the affected sciatic nerve root, and its intensity varies from one individual to another.
Some describe it as an electric shock or burns felt in a limb (buttock, thigh, legs and sometimes the foot), others complain of shooting pains that sometimes become disabling.
The typical attack is said to be unilateral, that is to say the pain is felt at the level of a single limb, but there are cases where it is bilateral.
Besides pain, a person with sciatica may also report other symptoms inconsistently. It may be a feeling of weakness, heaviness in the legs or impaired sensitivity such as tingling or numbness in all or part of the lower limb.
Diagnosis of sciatica
The diagnosis of sciatica is, a priori, clinical, but the use ofmedical imaging (radiography of the spine, scanner or spinal MRI) is necessary in particular to identify the pathology in question and possibly establish a differential diagnosis.
Generally, sciatica resolves on its own, but some cases require anti-inflammatory treatment aimed at relieving pain by reducing inflammation as much as possible.
What anti-inflammatories to relieve sciatica?
Find below a list of all the forms of anti-inflammatory treatments that you can use to act on your sciatica pain.
The oral anti-inflammatory drugs that have proven their effectiveness in relieving sciatic pain are mainly:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), for example: ibuprofen (motrin)
- Acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin)
- Paracetamol (Doliprane or Tylenol): although it has no anti-inflammatory (analgesic) effect, it is often prescribed in combination with NSAIDs for better efficacy.
- Corticosteroids (prednisone) with general anti-inflammatory action, prescribed to treat sciatica in the acute phase.
If your pain does not respond to these medications, it is probably hyperalgesic sciatica. In this case, it is advisable to consult, without delay, a health professional for an individualized evaluation and an adequate drug prescription.
Injections of corticosteroids (cortisone)
Lumbar infiltration is a treatment with local anti-inflammatory action. It is a local injection at the lumbar level of a powerful anti-inflammatory, most often based on cortisone.
Infiltration consists of injecting a powerful corticosteroid (cortisone) at the painful site where the lesion of the sciatic nerve is located.
Classically, it occurs at the level of the epidural space of the Lumbar spine, more precisely at the transforaminal or interlaminar level. To do this, the operator carries out ultrasound or CT guidance to better follow the path of the needle to be introduced.
In general, this therapeutic approach is proposed as second-line treatment for subjects suffering from severe or stabbing pain that does not respond to any of the usual analgesic drugs, or sometimes as first-line treatment in the acute phase of sciatica.
For frequency, it is recommended to ideally perform three infiltrations per year. This widely spaced prescription is linked to the frequency of side effects of corticosteroids.
It is obvious that the natural treatment is not the best therapeutic option to allow a total cure of the sciatica, but the recourse to this type of treatment in addition to the chemical treatment can prove to be very effective to fight against the pains of the sciatica. .
Here is a list of herbs and essential oils that are effective in controlling inflammation:
Thanks to its very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers, turmeric is one of the most used plants in a culinary and therapeutic context.
The composition of turmeric is essentially made of essential oils, vitamins (B1, B2, B6, C, E, K) and trace elements. But it is to its composition rich in curcumin and curcuminoids that we owe the anti-inflammatory properties of this spice.
In addition to the special flavor it brings to the kitchen and its aphrodisiac properties, ginger is a root well known for its anti-inflammatory powers.
Its anti-inflammatory effects are provided by gingerol, an active component acting on inflammatory pain related to chronic joint inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, rheumatic diseases, etc. It has been proven that this active element is also effective in acting on the inflammation linked to arthritis and sciatica.
Ginger also has other benefits thanks to its high potassium content and its richness in trace elements (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium) and vitamins (provitamin and vitamin B9).
Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that play a very important role in the functioning of our body.
They are provided by food in three natural forms: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
In addition to their action on the brain and the cardiovascular system, omega-3s are very effective against inflammation. Indeed, they have the capacity to act on the inflammatory mechanisms in osteoarthritis by slowing down cartilage destruction, thus they reduce the intensity of osteoarthritis pain.
Since sciatica is most often linked to inflammation secondary to a herniated disc, it can also respond to omega-3s if you consume them regularly.
Eucalyptus is a plant most often used in the form of herbal tea or essential oil. It would have anti-inflammatory effects which give it the ability to act on osteoarticular pain in general and sciatica pain in particular.
Wintergreen is a shrub from which a very interesting essential oil is extracted. It is one of the most used essential oils in aromatherapy.
In addition to its analgesic effects, this oil extracted from the shrub bearing the same name, is used in massage to relieve sciatica. Indeed, it provides a warming effect thanks to its ability to locally activate blood circulation.
For more natural anti-inflammatory treatments, check out the following article: How to relieve the sciatic nerve naturally? 7 answers | Lumbafit
Diet also plays an important role in controlling pain. The anti-inflammatory foods recommended by doctors or nutritionists are those devoid of glucose, low in lipids and hard-to-digest proteins.
Among these anti-inflammatory foods, we recommend:
- Oily fish (rich in omega-3), including salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring, anchovies, etc.
- White meats (chicken, turkey, rabbit, duck, etc.).
- Fats such as olive oil, sunflower oil, walnut oil, rapeseed oil, etc.
- Legumes: lentils, dried beans or dry weights.
- Oilseeds such as almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios are extremely rich in antioxidants
- Red fruits and vegetables for their richness in antioxidants.
Other treatments for sciatica
Obviously, physiotherapy does not make it possible to make sciatica disappear definitively. It nevertheless allows a lull in pain and contributes to a better evolution of the disease.
The techniques used in physiotherapy depend on the evolutionary stage of the sciatica.
In the acute phase, the physiotherapist aims to temporarily reduce pain, by opting for effective methods, such as the application of hot or cold, hydrotherapy, specific massages, etc.
In the chronic phase, the physiotherapist will assess the chronic pain and assess the evolution of the sciatica.
He will offer you regular sessions during which you will benefit from specific techniques and gestures such as gentle gymnastics and an exercise program to help you relearn the right gestures to make, especially when moving or carrying loads.
Admittedly, the effectiveness of alternative therapies has so far been the subject of very few scientific studies. Nevertheless, some approaches are known for their analgesic effects in the treatment of sciatica, among these approaches are:
- Massage therapy
- Hot and cold (cryotherapy)
- yoga therapy
- Cupping therapy (Cupping Therapy)
- acupressure mat
- Grandmother's poultices
The use of surgery
Generally, surgery is indicated as a last resort in the treatment of sciatica. It is generally considered when none of the conservative treatment options mentioned above allows a favorable evolution of the disease.
In addition, some urgent situations require immediate surgery, including paralyzing sciatica, hyperalgesic sciatica, or even sciatica complicated by a cauda equina syndrome.
The surgical techniques used depend on the patient's profile as well as the type of pathologies causing the sciatica (herniated disc, narrow lumbar canal, etc.).
Caution : the content of this article is in no way intended to encourage you to self-medicate or to replace the advice of your attending physician. It is advisable to always consult a health professional to prescribe the treatment that suits you best.
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