In an earlier post I discussed my bout with sciatica pain. I still don’t know what caused the pain, but I know for sure it’s very painful. Some folks suffer from sciatica flare-ups for several months and even years. I read in one forum where one guy has been taking drugs for his sciatica pain for over 4 years! My goodness, 4 years?
What is Sciatica
Sciatica pain occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched, bruised or manipulated in a fashion to get it angry. An angry sciatic nerve gets inflamed and sends radiating sensations through the buttock/hip and down the leg. The unpleasant sensation could take on the form of numbness, tingling, sharp pain or burning. It makes it extremely difficult to transition from standing to sitting or from sitting to standing.
Bending over at the waist or even turning your head and neck to look down can make the sensation worse. When you have a sciatic flare up you quickly determine which movements cause pain and which ones don’t and you do everything in your power to avoid the pain-causing movements.
Dealing with Sciatic Pain
When you’re in a lot of pain, you naturally want to find the underlying cause of the pain in order to correct the situation and stop the pain. If you’re in excruciating pain, you don’t particularly care what the pain causing event is. You just want it to stop so you do what it takes to make it stop and then you go about finding the root of the pain.
Chiropractic Care and Sciatica Flare-Ups
Initially, I tried the noble route in finding the cause of the pain. Figuring that my sciatic nerve was angry because I was out of alignment, I went to the chiropractor to correct the condition. After the adjustment, I felt better for about two days and then the pain came back.
For about a week or two, I’d run to the chiropractor every two days to alleviate the pain. This is an expensive course of action. Although he alleviated the underlying cause, the extremely sensitive sciatic nerve was inflamed and angry so it was easily agitated. I realized I had to implement Plan B.
Reducing the Swelling of the Sciatic Nerve
Plan B was to work on the inflammation in conjunction with the chiropractic adjustments. As I’ve written previously, I take mega doses of vitamin C which helped to reduce the inflammation. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties which I discovered by mistake (I wrote about this in my earlier post).
My initial ritual was to take ibuprofen in the morning to alleviate the pain while the Vitamin C would take over for the rest of the day. It wasn’t until I started taking Vitamin C during the night did I stop the ibuprofen ritual. I only took ibuprofen if the pain became unbearable.
I was hoping that with regular adjustments to correct the underlying problem along with reducing the swelling to stop the pain, I’d be able to perform the appropriate exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles that contributed to this condition. I believe my sciatic nerve problem was caused by lack of a conditioning (I hadn’t been to the gym for quite some time and spent too much time on the computer). We performed the necessary tests and ruled out slipped disc.
Acupuncture for Sciatic Pain Relief
Not wanting to take muscle relaxants as a course of treatment, my husband suggested acupuncture. He visits his acupuncturist for his knee pain and thought she would be of great help for my sciatica issue.
I went to the acupuncturist and was so glad I did. We sat and discussed my condition and my overall health. Except for my sciatica pain, I was (and am) in good health. Within a few minutes, I was face down on the table and she was sticking me with acupuncture needles. For those who are feint of heart, the needles don’t hurt.
Needles were placed in my feet, back of my knees, hips, outer hand, neck and back of my head. After she inserted the needles she attached an electronic device to send current to the needles and through my body. The current felt like a small pulsing of a drum. Up my legs, hips and down from my head and neck, the little drummer boy beat his drum.
She placed a heat lamp over my hip area and there I stayed for a while. It seemed like 15 minutes, but it was probably longer than that. All I know is that the entire visit took about an hour.
Well, you tell me. I didn’t feel any more pain that night and I woke up the following day and went for a run. Not a hint of pain. Later on in the day, I noticed a hint of pain, but nothing that required ibuprofen. I was able to perform my normal routine without the need to hold my side or moan in pain.
I’m not in the clear as yet, however. I have another acupuncture appointment scheduled for this week (which I am looking forward to). Apparently, it takes several visits before the situation is cleared, but I’ve got to tell you, my energy level is through the roof. I believe I’ve become a fan of acupuncture and will go for regular visits even after my sciatic nerve is all healed. The increase in energy alone is worth it.
8/6/12 Update: See my sciatica experiment on how I handled my most recent flare-up.
Disclaimer: This is one person’s journey through sciatic pain. I am not a medical professional and am not advising a course of action for your sciatic pain. I’m just sharing what is working for me.