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Sciatica, Causes And Alternatives To Medication

Sciatica is a tingling, burning, throbbing or general pain, usually in the buttocks or hips but can radiate as far down as the foot. There are three basic types of pain that can be confused or associated with sciatica, neuralgia, neuropathy, and neuritis.

Neuralgia is generally connected with pain along the course of a nerve. Neuropathy is pain in the peripheral nervous system (outside the spine) and generally non-inflammatory. Neuropathy can be connected diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve constrictions, spinal lesions, nutritional deficiencies and stressors.

Neuritis, the type most often associated with sciatica, is an inflammation of the nerve(s) affected. Symptoms are burning, throbbing, constant ache, difficulty being comfortable, problems sleeping because of pain, low energy, fever, swelling, tingling, intermittent pain from mild to severe enough to cause episodes of convulsions.

The causes can be manifold. Diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, imbalances in the metabolism, constipation, nutrient deficiencies, infection, inflammation pressing on the nerve, gout, leukemia, alcohol abuse, heavy metal toxicity, direct trauma, past injuries to the area of the lower spine, hips, buttocks, legs or piriformis muscle, stress and one that is very seldom associated with any maladies, sudden barometric pressure changes.

Conventional medicine addresses sciatica in many forms including drugs for pain, physical therapy and osteopathic and chiropractic, which can be considered both conventional and alternative depending on whom you are talking to.

Alternative treatments consist of fasting, biofeedback, Yoga, T'ai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga and other relaxation techniques, stress reduction instruction, herbal remedies, homeopathic treatments, hydrotherapy, acupuncture and acupressure, chiropractic, osteopathic, Naturopathic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and more.

Many of my students have had problems with sciatica. The largest contributing factors are direct trauma and constipation. Of the two, constipation is usually the easiest to treat but the most difficult for people to connect as the cause.

Allergens can be a major cause of constipation and processed corn products are a no-no for many people. Corn chips can be a definite contributing factor in many cases of sciatica.

Sudden, dramatic barometric pressure changes effect a large percentage of the population in various ways, even thought they don't understand or realize it. Barometric changes can cause our stress levels to rise. Most of us know about the hormones related to stress produced by the organs. Certain types of hormones can also be released locally by nerve ends. If we're under any type of stress, grief or joy, hormones are elevated. The nerve-released hormones can cause sciatica.

Increased physical activity can produce muscle, nerve, tendon or ligament stress. Sudden termination of heavy physical demands can also be a stressor. The body reaches a state of homeostasis, a place of balance with demand. If that's changed dramatically, stress ensues. Extenuating circumstances sometime require immediate cessation. When this happens many of us suffer from sciatica.

Soaking in a hot bath, until the water cools, with a cup of vinegar and a handful of sea salt helps. Getting things moving with magnesium citrate and Vitamin C to bowel tolerance also helps. Increasing water intake can help as can fresh parsley tea. Staying away from stressor foods like caffeine in coffee and sodas, refined foods, carbonated beverages, refined sugar and chocolate, plus giving up cigarettes and alcohol, which are all connected with stress, can help relieve the pain. If foods, alcohol and cigarettes are involved, it may take awhile for the body to reach a new place, a new homeostasis, before any relief is seen.

St. John's Wort is helpful both topically and internally. A teaspoon of St. John's Wort, skullcap, oat and Siberian ginseng in equal parts taken three times daily is an herbal remedy. Diluted peppermint oil, or a drop or two of liquid St. Johns' Wort, rubbed on the affected area is another. Juice therapies include parsley, celery and carrot blends.

We're all different and each of us has to know what works best for us. Fasting, or a mono-fast, helps clear the system and allows the body to again reach a state of homeostasis. Fasts should be monitored by someone competent in the procedure.

It's usually best to limit physical activity that involves the body from the waist down. Training (suffering) through has no purpose and only prolongs the pain. No pain, no gain really has no place in staying healthy and physically fit over the long haul.

Know your body, know your weak points, know what works best for you and listen to your inner wisdom. If you feel pain medicine is necessary, then do it. Just don't rely on pain pills for every little problem because when you really do need their help, they won't be as effective and they all have side effects. Professional consultation may be necessary.

By Larry R. Miller - Independent businessman for 40 years. Ex-professional race car driver, ex-professional athlete, award winning Trans-Pacific sailor. Freelance writer, photojournalist since 1982. Webmaster, videographer, pub...  

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