Sciatica is a debilitating condition that causes constant lower back pain. In severe cases, sufferers also experience leg pain and may not be able to carry out a job that's either physically demanding or involves sitting for long periods of time. The condition occurs when a slipped disc traps a nerve in your lower back, and conventional treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication. However, these drugs come with a long list of potential side effects, so what are your options if you want to tackle sciatica without drugs? Here's an overview of three alternatives to prescription medication:
Apply Topical Capsaicin
When you touch a chili pepper and then touch your eye, the stinging sensation you experience is caused by capsaicin. In addition to giving chilies their heat, capsaicin can also temporarily block pain signals. This compound can be purchased as a cream and provides fast relief from sciatic pain. Simply apply a thin layer to your lower back a few times a day.
Use a TENS Machine
You can purchase a TENS (transcutaneous electrical stimulation) machine from most large pharmacies. The premise of TENS therapy is that the low-voltage electrical currents produced by the machine can temporarily turn off pain receptors by stimulating nerve endings in your back. To carry out the treatment at home, you place the small pads attached to the TENS machine on the site of your pain and turn the machine on for a few minutes. The frequency with which you'll have to repeat the treatment will depend on the severity of your symptoms, but TENS machines are small and portable. However, the treatment is not suitable for those with a pacemaker or surgical implants.
Visit an Osteopath
Osteopathy is a gentle, holistic practice that uses manual manipulations to promote freer movement of muscles and joints. Osteopaths, such as Keilor Health Centre, use a combination of massage, gentle exercises and compression to free trapped nerves, and your osteopath will formulate a treatment plan based on your symptoms, overall health and lifestyle. Facilitated positional release is a manual adjustment that's often used to treat sciatica and involves a combination of hands-on flexing and rotating exercises that realign your spine and correct the bulging disc. Osteopathy is considered safe for pregnancy, but your osteopath should be aware that you're pregnant to allow them to treat you as safely as possible.
These treatment options may not be suitable for those with certain pre-existing medical conditions, so always get your doctor's approval before trying a new approach.