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Alternative Treatments for Sciatica Pain

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, and it runs from the lower back down to the middle of the back leg. When pain and inflammation take place in this nerve, it is known medically as "sciatica." This pain can be acute, meaning that it lasts a short time, or it can be chronic, where it keeps reoccurring. Conventional treatments for sciatica involve drugs, injections and possibly even surgery, but there are also alternative measures you can take.


Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been around for over 2000 years. The idea behind it is that there is a flow of energy that goes through the body and keeps it in good working order. When this flow is disrupted or blocked, pain and ailments can take place, such as sciatica. To treat sciatica pain, an acupuncturist will insert tiny needles into your skin in various meridian points to break up blockages in the energy flow, which can alleviate your pain.

Hot and Cold

A home alternative treatment for sciatica pain is the application of ice and heat. Cold packs are generally used first, and they are applied for 15 to 20 minutes several times throughout the course of the day. You can use ice cubes rolled up in a towel, ice packs or even a bag of frozen fruit. Heat pads, heat packs or heat lamps are also used 48 hours after the pain starts to flare up. They can also be alternated with ice packs.


Massage therapists use their fingers, hands and fists to work out knots and sore spots in tight muscles. This can be done to alleviate the pain that you experience with sciatica.


Hypnosis is an alternative treatment that utilizes the power of suggestion. While undergoing hypnosis, you are placed under a deep feeling of relaxation. Your mind stays narrowly focused, and you are given suggestions to decrease your feelings of pain and increase your coping abilities.


Spinal manipulation or "spinal adjustments" are done by a chiropractor. He places his hands on your spine in various areas and applies varying degrees of pressure. This decreases pain by restoring movement in the spine and improving its function. If the muscles in the lower back are in spasm or are tight, he may also throw in some massage and stretching to alleviate the pain.


Various exercises can be done to reduce pain, and they can also be used to prevent sciatica from coming back. An example of an exercise is a single knee to chest stretch. To do this exercise, lie on your back with your legs out straight. Grab one leg below the knee, pull it toward your chest and pump it three to four times. Release it and switch sides. Other exercises you can do include press-ups, lumbar rotations and bridges. Press-ups are done like push-ups, except you are only pushing your upper body off the ground. To do lumbar rotations, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Rock your legs from side to side down towards the floor. To do bridges, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Lift your hips up in the air and lower them back down.

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