On this blog, I’ve chronicled my long and painful journey with sciatica. I suffered from sciatic pain for about a year. By finding the right chiropractor that employed deep tissue massage, electronic stimulation, deep heat via ultrasound and prescribed a regimen of exercises, my sciatic problems abated. Along with my chiropractic visits, I made regular visits to the acupuncturist.
It took several months and a lot of stretching and targeted exercises for the pain to go away. Fortunately, my sciatica was not caused by a ruptured or deteriorated disc. My problem was caused by a tight piriformis muscle (seems appropriate given my anal retentive personality).
My chiropractor spent a lot of time massaging and stripping the muscle to release the tension. As the tension released, there was less pressure on the sciatic nerve, which translated into pain relief.
Now for the Experiment
When I was “healed,” my chiropractor told me there was a good chance my sciatica would flare up again. If it did I should follow the regimen we used of 10 days of anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen), stretching and targeted exercises. If I felt it wasn’t getting better I should return to him for a “tune-up.”
Dealing with Sciatic Pain
When the symptoms started up again, I began taking ibuprofen. I hated taking it before and I didn’t want to take it again. I decided to perform a bit of a risky experiment. The experiment wasn’t risky to my health; it was risky to my comfort level. I decided not to take ibuprofen. I opted for a more natural alternative, White Willow Bark (standardized).
White Willow Bark contains an anti-inflammation substance called salicin, which helps to relieve lower back pain. Salicin is the basis for aspirin. Since salicin is absorbed through the intestines and not the stomach, it doesn’t cause the stomach upset that aspirin and ibuprofen do.
Natural remedies don’t work immediately. It took a day or two for me to notice the pain relief.
Dealing with the Root Cause
Now that I had the pain under control, I wanted to find the root cause of my problem. Yes, I know age, sitting too much and lack of muscle tone all contribute to sciatic pain. I’m not getting any younger and maybe I do sit too much, but I had been visiting the gym regularly along with other activities that had me on the go.
I made sure to continue the exercises as prescribed by my chiro. Granted, I did slack off a bit, but not to the point where my sciatic pain should come back. It had to be something more than exercise causing my problem.
I started to look a little deeper into how our muscles and our bodies work. I soon discovered that the calcium/magnesium balance is delicate and if our bodies have too much of one and not enough of the other, bad things happen. In my case, one of the symptoms was sciatic nerve pain.
We live in a society where we are constantly told to get more calcium. It’s good for strong bones and teeth. We buy products such as orange juice fortified with more calcium. The problem is, calcium must be balanced with magnesium. Without magnesium, our bodies don’t properly absorb the calcium and the excess calcium gets deposited all over the place.
Additionally, calcium causes our muscles to contract. Magnesium counters that by causing them to relax. If we are calcium dominant, our muscles continue to tense up. They don’t have the magnesium to tell them to chill out.
My piriformis muscle is tight. It gets tight and stays that way until it’s coaxed down by my chiropractic, acupuncture, stretching and exercise interventions. Once it’s been worked on sufficiently, it relaxes until it’s ready to tense up again. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Here’s the Sciatica Experiment
I did a lot of research on magnesium. If you’re interested in more information, go to the library and take out the book “The Magnesium Miracle” by Dr. Carolyn Dean. Or, check out a few of these links:
- Magnesium: The most powerful relaxation mineral available
- Magnesium Testimonials (various people sharing their magnesium stories)
- Magnesium for Life
I decided to increase my magnesium intake so I purchased a bottle of magnesium capsules. No, I didn’t buy calcium/magnesium capsules because there seems to be an overabundance of calcium in my system (and probably in yours too). I also use the magnesium oil, which also makes an effective deodorant.
It’s been a week since I started taking magnesium. I’ve found that I no longer need to take the White Willow Bark. I have a small hint of sciatic pain, but it has diminished significantly. I fully expect the sciatic pain to go away as the magnesium does what it’s supposed to do.
I’m coming to the conclusion that my sciatic pain was a manifestation of my body’s magnesium deficiency. I’ll try to remember to update this post to let you know how the experiment is going.
5 Years Free from Sciatica Pain (1/5/17 Update)