What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body; it originates from the lowest part of the spine and runs through the buttock and down the lower limb. There are times, often because of compression in the lower back, that the nerve becomes irritated, inflamed, or compressed, and an unbearable pain shoots down the buttocks, past the back of the leg, and down to the foot. This difficult condition is known as sciatica, and can be caused by seemingly innocuous activities like sitting on hard surfaces for a long period of time or carrying a large wallet in the back pocket. These activities may lead to one of the several causes of sciatica, including a herniated intervertebral disk, muscular pressure, or spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the space in the spinal column that the nerve passes through. Along with pain, the person experiencing sciatica may experience numbness in the leg or foot, difficulty walking or standing, fever, and bladder problems. Another common cause of sciatica is the sudden twisting that accompanies improper lifting or motion, and as such, the condition is most common in people between 25 and 45 years of age—for this is the age group most typically exerting themselves in such ways.
How can I treat Sciatica?
Traditional Chinese medicine considers sciatica the product of dampness, as well as energy and blood constriction. Treatment involves unblocking the stagnation and promoting the flow of blood through acupuncture. Sciatica can also be helped along with a diet rich in whole grains and other complex carbohydrates, organic proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods include potatoes, salt-water fish such as salmon and flounder, soybeans, kidney beans, black beans, oranges, bananas, grapes, mulberries, spirulina, kale, garlic, onions, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, and anise seeds. Other remedies include drinking chamomile tea and taking a bath of Epsom salt, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, and chamomile oils. Regular exercise can help prevent sciatica, and bed rest is beneficial during an episode.
What should I avoid in my lifestyle for Sciatica?
It is important to avoid things that irritate the sciatic nerve such as spicy food, greasy and oily foods, dairy products, sugars, alcohol, and smoking. Other things to avoid include the sleep medication Ambien, as well as stress, worry, tension, and a poor posture.
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