Sciatic Pain: What Is It and How Can I Heal It?
Welcome to Community Voices! With these special blog posts, we’re very excited to welcome a handful of health enthusiasts from the Activation Family. They share their experiences and some of the discoveries they’ve made on their own personal journeys to better health. We hope you’ll be able to connect, relate and grow alongside our community writers.
Hello everyone! For my very first post for Activation, I would like to talk to you all about the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Because why not start with a bang? Spoiler alert: it was sciatic nerve pain. But it took me a little while to figure that out.
Sciatic Pain Begins
It all started at the end of April, when I put my back out. This is a pretty regular occurrence for me. Lower back pain seems to be genetically inherited from my mother’s side of the family, along with a heightened risk of fibromyalgia and inner-ear problems (thanks, Mom!). So when I felt the muscle pain, the spasms, and heard myself grunting like a 90-year-old every time I stood up, I didn’t worry too much. I kept doing daily yoga, going for walks, and figured that as long as I didn’t do anything too intense the problem would fix itself.
But then the pain started to spread down into the back of my right thigh. That was new. And that didn’t go away. In fact, it got worse. It got worse until it got to the point where I couldn’t roll over in bed without my leg seizing, where I couldn’t stand or sit or walk without stabbing pain. Until I made the mistake of lying down on my bed one night and it took two people and two hours to get me standing again. Then, I thought, perhaps the time has come to seek some professional help.
If you’ve ever stumped a doctor, you know what a great feeling that is. Right? When you go to a medical professional because you’re in terrible pain and they tell you they have no idea what’s wrong or how to fix it? Fantastic. That was my experience with the first emergency room doctor, who gave me a mild pain reliever and sent me for an ultrasound that revealed nothing. But I will be eternally grateful to the second emergency room doctor I saw, three days later, who also did not know what was wrong but gave me a prescription for Tylenol 3 and told me to go see a physiotherapist.
Learning About the Sciatic Nerve
It was at my first physio appointment that I learned a new word: sciatic.
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. It runs from the lower back, through the buttocks and down the backs of both thighs into the feet. The nerve is at risk of being pinched by the discs in the lower spine. When that happens, the nerve becomes irritated and you feel pain.
Since the nerve is so long and controls so many muscles, sciatic pain can occur in lots of places on the body, such as: your lower back, your gut, your hip, down the legs and into the feet. Sciatic pain can also cause numbness, tingling and immobility. Because the sciatic nerve controls the leg muscles, your legs can literally give out from under you when you try to engage those muscles. This explained why it often took me three or four tries to stand up off the couch. This was hilarious at first, but did get a little boring after a while.
The whole experience got boring. But it taught me, if nothing else, that giving the body time to heal is important. And not pushing it to be “better” on your made-up nonsense timeline of when you think it should be fixed is also important.
Let the Healing Begin
Giving a name to what was causing my pain was so freeing, especially after two weeks of intense mystery and fear. Next was figuring out the treatment. Treating sciatic pain is all about taking pressure off the nerve so it can calm down and be soothed, and there are several ways of doing that. Fortunately, a lot of those ways appeal to the hippie in me; I’m always curious to know more about natural health solutions. Anything that doesn’t leave me dependent on painkillers is a thing that I will try.
Some favorite treatments I’ve tried out are chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, yoga and massage. A 2010 study in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapies looked into the effects of spinal manipulation through chiropractic adjustments on sciatic pain. It found that almost 60% of people tested “benefited from spinal manipulation to the same degree as if they underwent surgical intervention.” I would definitely prefer a chiropractic adjustment to getting major surgery, how ‘bout you?
And according to Dr. Axe, “Acupuncture, yoga and massage therapy are other alternative treatment approaches that been have proven to help act like natural muscle relaxers and kick this type of debilitating pain for good.”
I also worked with my physiotherapist to tailor some exercises to my needs. Some of them were surprisingly simple. For example, sitting slumped forward with the head down, puts maximum pressure on the nerve. It was amazing how much relief I found just from my putting my shoulders back and sitting with my spine straight. Knowledge is power and little adjustments are magic.
Healing with Magnesium
These exercises help, and resting helps. But I had another superstar support in this process, and that was Activation’s EASE magnesium spray. There are three steps from street level up to the Activation office, and one day I barely managed to climb them. It took about a minute per step, and it hurt. We keep bottles of EASE in the bathroom, and I tried spraying some on the back of my leg. Within five minutes, I had most of my mobility back. And I could stand up from my chair without gasping out loud from the pain. It didn’t last forever, but the magnesium acted quickly to help my muscles relax around the nerve. It was a life saver while I worked to get the nerve to truly calm down. If you’re struggling with sciatic pain, I highly recommend trying out EASE to compliment the other techniques you’re using. Because we all deserve to live pain free.
Guest Blogger: Kate Spencer
Kate is a 28-year-old writer for Activation Products. Kate is passionate about exploring the outdoors, growing her plant knowledge, and prioritizing self care. When she’s not at Activation, you’ll likely find her in a local yoga studio or mixing up a DIY face mask. Her favorite Activation Products include EASE Magnesium, Amaranth Oil, and Flax Oil.