Sciatica Treatment At Home
Sciatica Treatment methods that are promoted online are often presented as the “one and only cure” for sciatic nerve pain. Many of these methods are fine to use, but anyone who is promoting a single cure is simply missing the big picture.
Because most of the individuals promoting their “one and only cure” are not health care professionals, they lack the training and experience to know that there are several different causes for sciatica symptoms. Typically, these individuals have discovered something that worked for them when other things had failed. Because their experience is limited to what worked for them, they don’t realize that what worked for them may not work for everyone and may even make some people WORSE!
It’s also important to recognize that in many cases although symptoms can be brought under control relatively quickly, the underlying causes of those symptoms may not be fully corrected even though you feel fine. This means that symptoms can return, often without warning and often much worse, even after weeks, months, or even years with no pain. For this reason, it is best to think in terms of long-term management rather than seeking a short term “cure” .
Even invasive medical procedures like spinal injections and surgery are not really reliable long-term solutions for sciatica and back pain. While these interventions may be necessary in some cases, the long-term results are often disappointing, particularly when expectations are set too high.
As a practicing doctor of chiropractic with 20 plus years of clinical experience and having treated hundreds of sciatica cases, I can tell you that the first step in finding an effective treatment that works for you is to try to determine the cause of your particular symptoms. The majority of cases fall into one (and sometimes both) of two categories:
Most of the home treatment products you’ll find online are primarily for sciatica due to muscular contraction. There’s nothing wrong with these products and they can be effective – IF your symptoms are actually due to muscle contraction and NOT nerve compression!
But, if you’re using methods that address the wrong cause, not only will your efforts be ineffective, they may actually increase your symptoms.
For example, I have seen some individuals recommending the “downward dog” yoga position as a sciatica treatment exercise. This will usually help when the symptoms are caused by muscle contraction in the buttock area, but unfortunately, the forward bending of the spine (particularly if your form is not perfect, and chances are it may not be simply because you’re in pain) will tend to make bulging discs bulge even more, and cause increased nerve compression and pain.
As I said before, effective treatment at home begins with attempting to determine the cause of your sciatica symptoms.
The video above goes into more detail, but there are a couple of basic tests you can use.
The first thing to check for is for signs of “nerve root tension”, which indicates that nerve compression and irritation are involved in your symptoms. The straight leg raise shown below is a simple test to detect nerve root tension:
An increase in your leg and/or buttock symptoms when straightening the leg as shown above is usually a sign that one or more of the nerve roots that form the sciatic nerve are being compressed and irritated – and suggests that your treatment should focus on nerve compression treatment techniques more than muscle contraction treatments.
A test for the most common muscular cause of sciatica is to place tension on the piriformis muscle as shown below:
An increase or decrease in symptoms with placing tension on the piriformis is suggestive that muscle contraction is the primary source of your problem and suggests that your home exercise regimen should focus on stretching and releasing overly tight muscles.
Now that you have a better idea of what may be causing your sciatica, you are ready to move on to the next video in the series that discusses how to get started with the appropriate treatment for it. To continue on to the next video, please enter your email in the box below, or at the top of this page next to the video. If you don’t want to subscribe to my email list (you’ll periodically receive additional information and self-care tips and you can unsubscribe at any time), click here to proceed to the next video and to get my free ebook.