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.
Final Sciatica Update 11/25/15
5 Years Free from Sciatica Pain (1/5/17 Update)
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I need help with my siatica.
Teresa, I’m not sure what to tell you. I’ve written several posts about my trials with sciatica. Hopefully there’s something in one of them that can help you.
Hey Felicia, this really helped me to know more about my Piriformis muscle syndrome. I noticed that I had this magnesium deficiency problem way earlier. I researched about the magnesium benefits and also bought a bottle of magnesium tablets. I have never used them before since they were not prescribed. After I got this sciatica, I had to take the strong pain killer which made me feel tired all day. My doctor told that I would get this leg pain back after I’m done with all medications. yes and that happened. this never goes away and all those pain killers will just let you sleep. I’m seriously still going through this annoying pain. I started yoga these days hoping to get rid off this. I think the magnesium tablets I bought would help in some way.
I hope yoga does much to alleviate your sciatica pain. I know that magnesium definitely helps. I don’t know if you read my recent post about being 5 years free from sciatica pain, but it might be worth a read. After suffering for such a long time, I’m happy to report the pain has not come back for at least 5 years. I’ve been vigilant about doing things to prevent an episode. Hopefully you can benefit from my experience.
I’m on my feet a lot and my sciatic nerve causes a lot of pain. My hips, lower back and leg are excruciating, I’ve been taking ibrephrophan but I really don’t like taking it because of ulcers I had due to Bacteria. I’m going to try magnesium and see if this works, I’ll post in a week or so and let you know results.
I hope the magnesium eases your sciatic pain.
When I get aches or pains (including the beginning of a sciatica flareup), I now take proteolytic enzymes instead of ibuprofen. It doesn’t cause stomach damage and has no nasty side effects. It is more expensive, but it’s much easier on the digestive system. I take natto-serra by Dr’s. Best. Do a little research on proteolytic enzymes to find out which one will work best for you.
Felicia…I have been under extreme stress after my son passed away unexpectedlyDec.9th2016..I have been diagnosed with low magnesium and take 1 -400mg per day..but began to notice strange leg muscle pain.I researched on line and that was a symptom of not having low magnesium..But continued to take calcium every night.Reading your report makes me realize the pain gets so much worse after I take the calcium. .Thankyou,for I have been experimenting also..with natural remedies.I knew I had not injured a disc..I will immediately stop my calcium..Thankyou again..
Penny, I’m so sorry to hear about your son. I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through. Your body is also reacting to his passing in its own way.
I’m glad my post helped you. I find that too many people (myself previously included) take too much calcium and not enough magnesium. I’ve found magnesium supplementation has helped me and my family resolve many nagging issues. We were all magnesium deficient and the supplementation has helped balance things out.
I’m also glad to see that you’re experimenting with natural remedies. In my experience, it’s hard to go wrong when you choose natural options.
Magnesium also has a calming effect. It might help you get through the difficult times you’re facing with your son’s passing. I’m wishing you all the best!
Can you tell me what kind of magnesium you used and the dosage?I have terrible sciatic pain and cannot take NSAIDs.Thainks!
I started taking Magnesium Taurate. I took 2 capsules 3 times a day. It did help my sciatic pain a bit, but what I think really did the trick is that I found a chiropractor that worked with me over a period of about 6 weeks or so. He did deep tissue “stripping.” In other words he worked deep to reach my tight piformis muscle. Manually loosening up a piformis muscle isn’t a pleasant experience, but it was worth the discomfort. In addition to stripping the muscle, he applied ultrasound heat and then electronic stimulation.
That combination in addition to chiropractic adjustments helped to alleviate my sciatic pain. Since then I’ve been continuing with magnesium and am cognizant when I’m not getting enough exercise which eventually leads to a sciatic flare up. Working long hours on the computer is a recipe for creating sciatic pain.
A few months ago I purchased a rebounder. I find that as little as 10 minutes of rebounding a day (I usually aim for 20 minutes) helps to keep the sciatic pain away. Sciatic pain is a nasty condition. I strongly suggest looking for a competent alternative practitioner to help you control the pain.
Good luck to you, and if you don’t mind, check in from time to time to let me know how you’re doing.