Sciatica Pain Relief – Treatment by a Naturopath

  • Tara Andresen

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Sciatica refers to one sided pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve which can affect the low back, buttock, hip and leg. Sciatica can occur as a result of a herniated disk, changes to the structure of the spine or activation of trigger points in the piriformis muscle. Any of these changes can cause compression of part of the sciatic nerve and lead to back, buttock and leg pain. The hallmark of sciatica is pain that radiates from the low back to the buttock and then down the back of the leg.

Naturopathic treatment options for sciatica include a specific type of acupuncture to release the piriformis muscle as well as herbal and nutrient support to decrease inflammation and support joint health.

Myofascial acupuncture works well to release trigger points in the piriformis muscle. This muscle is found in the middle of the buttock and trigger points often form there as a result of overuse activities that can include long periods of sitting. Pain may be worse with sitting, climbing stairs or running. Myofascial acupuncture involves inserting an acupuncture needle directly into the knot or trigger point within the muscle that is causing the problem. Often this will elicit a twitch response whereby the muscle contracts and relaxes on its own. As a result the muscle can then properly contract and relax and the pressure on the sciatic nerve is reduced.

In addition to acupuncture, your naturopath will recommend stretches for the piriformis along with herbal and nutrient support to decrease inflammation and improve muscle function. Herbs that may be recommended include Boswellia, Curcumin, Devil’s Claw and White Willow. These herbs should be taken at the appropriate dose to ensure efficacy. Your Naturopath can help determine the best dose for you.

Apart from herbs, other nutrients may be recommended including bromelain and magnesium. Bromelain is a proteoytic enzyme derived form pineapple that decreases inflammation and pain while magnesium decreases muscle tension, allowing the muscle to relax more readily. Both these nutrients are commonly recommended for a variety of pain conditions.

In addition to oral supplements, topical support recommended by a naturopath can include natural menthol products as well as capsicum cream which acts as a natural analgesic to decrease pain.

To find out more about how a naturopath treats sciatic and other pain conditions , contact your local Naturopathic Doctor or book your appointment with Dr. Andresen at one of her Toronto Naturopathic Clinics.