Sciatica is a condition characterized by sharp nerve pain radiating from the pelvis bone through the hips and buttocks, and down each of the legs. This pain is caused by irritation to the sciatic nerve, the human body’s longest nerve.
Various at-home treatment methods exist, such as sciatica stretches and conventional methods that utilize heat therapy and ice therapy. These treatments aim to dull the pain signals being sent throughout the body, potentially resulting in tingling or numbing of the muscles.
The sciatic nerve is responsible for providing feeling to the thighs, legs, and feet, so the muscles in these areas are also affected severely by any kind of irritation to this nerve.
Chiropractic treatment of this condition typically consists of various at-home treatment techniques combined with in-office treatment. Here are a few of the most common treatments patients use:
1. Massage Therapy
Deep tissue massages have been proven an effective source of treatment for sciatic nerve pain. Deep tissue massages require firm strokes against the grain of the muscles to allow access to the deepest tissues in the muscle. These strokes should help release tension and relieve pain.
2. Ice: Cold Therapy
Using ice compression in the affected area helps to reduce inflammation. Inflammation worsens sciatic nerve pain, so ice therapy acts as a fantastic source of sciatica pain relief to patients by eliminating swelling in the body.
3. Adjustments (Spinal Manipulation)
Spinal adjustments are a focal aspect of chiropractic care. Adjustments facilitate movement that’s been restricted by sciatica and aim to restore misaligned vertebrae to their original position in the spine. Restoration of vertebrae reduces sciatic nerve pain and helps you feel comfortable moving again.
4. Spinal Decompression
Sometimes, a herniated disc may be the cause of sciatica. In this case, spinal decompression therapy can help bring sciatica pain relief. Spinal decompression is a non-invasive solution to sciatica that treats pain using powerful traction that gently stretches the spine, reducing pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Usually, your chiropractor will prescribe at-home sciatica stretches that you can do on your own time to improve your condition. Most of these stretches involve the piriformis muscle, the small muscle located behind the gluteus maximus.
- The Standing Hamstring Stretch
This stretch targets the hamstrings. When the hamstrings are too tight, they tend to contribute to sciatic nerve pain, worsening an already painful condition. Regular sciatica stretches loosens the hamstrings, so they no longer pull on the lower back for support.
This stretch requires a chair whose seat is in line with or slightly below the hips. Standing, raise one foot and place it on the surface of the chair, with your feet and toes facing straight in front of you. With your arms outstretched, lean forward towards the toes to feel the stretch.
Next, use your hands to push down on the hip on the same side as your raised foot, and hold this position for 20 seconds. Return to the standing position and repeat on the opposite side.
- The Knee to Chest Stretch
This stretch requires you to lie flat on your back. Raising one leg with a bend in the knee, clasp your hands around your knee, pulling it in toward the chest. You should feel the stretch deep in the spine. Hold this for about 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. Do this stretch five times per leg for the best results.
- The Standing Hamstring Stretch
Sciatica can cause the hips to become tight and sore as a direct result of misalignment in the spine. Stretching the hips loosens the area and encourages proper alignment.
While sitting, lift one of your legs over the top of the opposite knee, so that the two together make a right-angle. Lean forward slowly with your upper body until you can feel the stretch in your hips and lower back. Hold this position for 30 seconds and slowly return to sitting upright. Do this on the other side and repeat five times per leg.