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11 Highly Effective Solutions For Sciatic Nerve Pain

What is sciatica?
Sciatica is leg pain caused by a pinched nerve in the lower back. Although the pangs begin in nerve roots located on either side of the lower spine, they then course through the sciatic nerve, which runs the length of each leg from the buttock down to the foot. The leg agony, called radiculopathy, "is often worse than the back pain," says William A. Abdu, MD, medical director of the Spine Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Usually felt in one leg, the sensation "can be intolerable," says Birgit Ruppert, a physical therapist at the Spine Center. "Some people liken it to the nerve pain you experience if you have a toothache." vintage rustic collections for wedding in Tea length
Why it happens
The most common cause is a herniated disk: When a disk develops a tear or crack and bulges into the spinal canal, it can pinch the sciatic nerve. Usually, symptoms clear up within about 6 weeks, but for some people, the pain can last.
Here's what can help:
-Acupuncture
"You can get relief as soon as the first session, though it takes about 12 sessions to see improvement," says Jingduan Yang, MD, assistant professor at the Jefferson Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University.
-Yoga
A study in the journal Pain reported that people with chronic back pain who practiced Iyengar yoga for 16 weeks saw pain reduced by 64% and disability by 77%.
-Massage
Don't expect a chilled-out spa massage if you have sciatica. In this instance, trigger-point therapy is best, says Jeff Smoot, vice president of the American Massage Therapy Association. The sciatic nerve sits underneath a muscle called the piriformis, which is located beneath the glutes.
-Topical Preparations
St. John's wort oil, a liniment, is "one of my favorites for nerve pain," says Tieraona Low Dog, MD, director of the fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Apply the anti-inflammatory oil two or three times a day where there's pain. Another option: an OTC cayenne pepper plaster or cream; capsaicin, found in chiles, hinders the release of pain-causing compounds from nerves.
-Ice or Heat
Because the sciatic nerve is buried deep within the buttock and leg, ice or heat on the surface of the body won't ease that inner inflammation.But the time-honored treatments can act as counter-irritants and that brings the pain down a notch
-Pain Relievers and Muscle Relaxants
Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, either OTC (like ibuprofen) or Rx, can ease the distress.
-Epidural Steroid Injections
People whose pain doesn't lessen within about a month and who aren't helped by other therapies may find their pain remedied by an x-ray-guided injection of steroid into the lower back near the sciatic nerve.
-Exercise and Physical Therapy
Moving is usually the last thing people dogged by sciatica want to do, but it's important to be physically active. "Lying in bed makes it more likely that the pain will last longer," says Ruppert. "Exercise increases blood flow to the disk and the nerve, helping to get rid of the chemicals causing the inflammation." Take 15- to 20-minute walks. If that hurts too much, give swimming or water aerobics a try; there's not as much pressure on the back when you're in the water.
-Surgery
After 4 to 6 weeks of unremitting symptoms, patients may qualify for surgery. The Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial found that those who had surgery for a herniated disk had greater decreases in pain and disability 3 months afterward than patients who did not. The benefits lasted up to 4 years.