(NaturalNews) Even though up to 90 percent of Americans suffer from sciatica, there is hope. Made up of low back spinal nerves L4 through S2, the sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body and runs from the hip, down the back of the thigh, to the inside of the leg and finally the foot. Commonly affecting adults 25 to 45 years old, irritation or injury to the sciatic nerve is generally caused by what chiropractors call a "misalignment in your lower spine." This is when a bone in your spine is out of place compressing or "pinching" the nerve. Falling on your back/buttocks or sitting for prolonged periods typically causes this syndrome.
Treating sciatica: The medical model versus naturopathic model
Typically MD's put their patients on bed rest for a few days, prescribe muscle relaxers or painkillers, and recommend physiotherapy. In severe or chronic cases steroid treatments are administered. Long heralded for their effectiveness, however, a recent article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reviewed every study on steroid therapy and found them to be no more effective than conservative treatments.
Chiropractic journals, on the other hand, are filled with studies showing long-term resolution of leg pain and disability for patients with sciatica. For example, in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, a Norwegian study was conducted in 2007 where 44 patients from Central Hospital of Sogn and Fjordane all suffered from acute sciatic pain. After chiropractic care all but two patients returned to work. Also, the sick leave among patients was reduced by two-thirds, as compared with patients undergoing typical medical treatments.
Natural remedies to treat sciatica
• Visit a chiropractor: Research and countless testimonials have proven that chiropractic adjustments are key to help not only manage sciatic pain, but also correct the root cause.
• Live a stress-free life: Whether meditation, prayer, or tai chi, find your "happy place" and stay there. Stress is the number one killer in the world and causes muscle tightness, inflammation, and a slew of other issues that will aggravate sciatica.
• Eat an anti-inflammatory diet: A diet rich in foods like turmeric, ginger, garlic, kelp, and sweet potatoes are key to pain reduction and chronic disease reversal.
• Stay hydrated: Drinking the right amount of pure, filtered water every day is key to preventing muscle cramps and stiffness that can contribute to sciatica. Listen to your body, it will tell you how much to drink.
• Stretch: Lie on your back, hug one knee to your chest for 10 seconds, and then use the opposite arm to pull the knee across your body making sure to keep your hip from rising off the floor. Hold for an additional 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg. Do three reps at least three times a day.
• Stay active: Our bodies are designed to be in constant motion. To combat the sedentary lifestyle that often contributes to sciatica, it is crucial to keep your body moving. Consider walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator or park in the last spot and walk that extra 100 meters. Try going on walks during your lunch break. Whatever it takes, make your life a life of movement.
• Core Exercises: Yoga exercises like cat-cow, plank, and downward-facing dog are important to keep your abs and core strong to help support and protect the lower back.
Sources for this article include
Orlin JR, Didriksen A. Results of chiropractic treatment of lumbopelvic fixation in 44 patients admitted to an orthopedic department. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2007 Feb;30(2):135-9.
Pinto RZ, et al. Epidural corticosteroid injections in the management of sciatica: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Dec 18;157(12):865-77.
About the author: Journalist, medical researcher, speaker, and life coach, Eric L. Zielinski has been writing prolifically since 1998. Formerly trained as primary care provider and peer-review researcher, he has published an eclectic selection of health content for several print and online publications. Zielinski earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Wayne State University in 2002 and is currently wrapping up his Doctorate of Chiropractic at Life University along with a Masters of Public Health at Emory University. Visit his blog. Track his work on facebook. Read Eric's other naturalnews.com articles.
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