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What is Sciatica and how is it treated naturally?


If you have pain in your buttock, and/or pain down the back or outer side of your leg, you most likely have sciatica (pronounced sy-at-ika). This refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body, starting from the spinal cord in the low back and travelling through the buttock and down each leg. Sciatica is an uncomfortable pain that can feel a bit like a toothache in the wrong place. The sciatic nerve controls movement of the leg muscles and provides sensation to the legs and feet. Pressure on the sciatic nerve roots as they exit the lower spine is the main reason for sciatica, a situation most commonly caused by a lumbar disc bulge, bone spurs with spinal arthritis, spinal stenosis or mechanical pressure from constant sitting.


Risk factors for Sciatica:

  • Pregnancy
  • Age-related arthritis in the spine, including thinning discs
  • Occupation requiring frequent heavy lifting or a lot of driving
  • Desk bound job or a sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes causing nerve deterioration (diabetic neuropathy).
  • Falling on your tail bone

Symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Pain that follows the course of the sciatic nerve from the low back through the buttock, and may extend to the back of the thigh, calf, ankle and foot. Generally speaking, the further the pain extends, the worse the problem.
  • If you have a rapid onset of sciatica as a result of acute disc bulge or prolapse in your low back, you will have severe back pain and be unable to move without pain.
  • Sciatica can also occur from degenerative arthritis in the low back with disc thinning. This type of sciatica is more prevalent in older people, and tends to come and go.
  • There may also be numbness, tingling or pins-and-needles in your thigh, leg or foot. You may also have noticed weakness in your knee, leg or foot.


  • Restrict activities and avoid doing anything that makes the pain worse. Rest often.
  • Avoid sitting for too long. Sitting on a donut pillow or pressure cushion with a tailbone cutout can help reduce pressure on the lumbar spine. Ergonomic seats, such as a saddle chair, relieve much of the pressure on the tailbone while sitting.
  • Using a lumbar back support helps maintain the proper spinal curve.
  • If the sciatic pain is due to disc bulge (protrusion) a lumbar brace should be worn to provide stability and aid healing.
  • An ice pack on the painful buttock or leg can dull the pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Warm baths can help with overall relaxation and pain reduction.
  • Heat packs should be used only after the acute pain and inflammation begin to subside.
  • Specific stretches for the back, hips and legs can give good relief if tolerated, as stretching relieves muscle tension and improves circulation.
  • Nervease is a natural formulation that acts as an anti-spasmodic for relieving nerve pain.
  • Herbal Pain Relief capsules or Zen Herbal tablets are an alternative to pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories.
  • Chiropractic or osteopathy can help relieve the pressure on the low back and correct misalignment.
  • Traction of the low back can be very helpful in alleviating sciatic pain, especially when sciatica is due to lumbar disc compression or osteoarthritis of the spine.
  • For more severe, prolonged or recurring pain the use of a TENS unit is highly recommended. This is an effective non drug alternative to pain medication.
  • If the pain is severe or not subsiding with rest, medical intervention may be needed. In severe cases, back surgery may be required to alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve, otherwise permanent nerve damage with numbness and /or weakness of the leg and foot can occur.