Sciatica is a distressing sensation caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. Those experiencing sciatica may encounter moderate to severe pain, as well as weakness or numbness in the back, buttocks, and legs[i]. Managing the pain can be achieved through various methods such as hot and cold compresses, stretching exercises and maintaining a regular exercise routine.
Sciatica is a condition commonly known by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, leading to pain and discomfort. It can be caused by various factors, including[ii]:
Herniated Disc – can happen when the gel-like centre of a spinal disc protrudes and presses on the nerve root, it can lead to sciatica.
Spinal Stenosis. This condition is seen when the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the nerve roots, including the sciatic nerve.
Piriformis Syndrome: The piriformis muscle, can become tight or spasmodic, irritating the sciatic nerve that runs beneath.
Degenerative Disc Disease – this happens because discs in the spine naturally age and wear down, and sometimes they can lose cushioning and height, potentially causing nerve impingement.
Spondylolisthesis: This condition involves one vertebra slipping forward onto another, which can compress the nerve roots and cause sciatic pain.
Trauma or Injury: Accidents, falls, or sports injuries can lead to sciatica if they damage the spine or put pressure on the nerve.
Pregnancy: The weight and postural changes during pregnancy can sometimes cause pressure on the sciatic nerve.
There are various components that can result in the development of sciatica[iii]:
Increased Age - As people age, the natural wear and tear on the spine can lead to conditions such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis, which are common causes of sciatica.
Jobs that involve heavy lifting, prolonged sitting, or repetitive twisting motions can put strain on the spine and increase the risk of developing sciatica[iv].
Excess weight can put additional stress on the spine and increase chances of developing conditions that contribute to sciatica, such as herniated discs.
Lack of regular physical activity can weaken the muscles that support the spine, making it more susceptible to injury and compression of the sciatic nerve.
Diabetics - People with diabetes have an increased risk of nerve damage, including the sciatic nerve, which can lead to sciatica.
Genetics - Some people may have an inherited predisposition to developing conditions that contribute to sciatica, such as herniated discs or spinal abnormalities.
Smokers: Smoking can impair blood flow and nutrient delivery to the spinal discs, making them more prone to the risk of sciatica[v].
The intake of nutrients plays a role in supporting overall spinal health by reducing inflammation and promoting nerve function. Adequate intake of key nutrients can contribute to the prevention and management of conditions that cause sciatica.
Anti-inflammatory nutrients: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds and antioxidants, like those in colourful fruits and vegetables, may help to reduce inflammation and alleviating sciatic pain[vi].
Bone and disc health: Nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium are essential for maintaining strong bones and spinal discs. Adequate intake of these nutrients can help prevent conditions like degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis that may contribute to sciatica[vii][viii].
Nerve health: Certain B vitamins, such as B12 and B6, are needed for good nerve health and function. Including food sources like lean meats, fish, whole grains, and legumes can support nerve health and potentially alleviate sciatica symptoms[ix].
Weight management: Excess weight can place additional stress on the spine and contribute to conditions like herniated discs, increasing the risk of sciatica. See our other articles for advice on healthy, holistic weight management[x][xi].
Terranova Magnesium Calcium 2:1 Complex: Magnesium helps regulate muscle contractions and can aid in reducing muscle tension and spasms, which are common symptoms associated with sciatica. Taking magnesium supplements might help relax the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve, potentially alleviating discomfort[xii][xiii].
Viridian Boswellia Resin: Boswellia resin has been suggested to have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. It may act on pain pathways in the body, potentially reducing the intensity of sciatica-related pain[xiv][xv].
Hifas da Terra Reishi AntiOx Mushroom Powder Superfood: Reishi mushrooms contain bioactive compounds, such as triterpenes and polysaccharides, that have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is a common component of sciatica, and reducing inflammation may help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with the condition[xvi].
Terranova Pro-Peptase IRC Complex: Serrapeptase has been found to break down fibrin, a protein involved in the formation of scar tissue and blood clots. Some proponents suggest that by breaking down fibrin, serrapeptase may help reduce the formation of scar tissue around the sciatic nerve and improve blood flow to the affected area, potentially relieving symptoms of sciatica[xvii].
A Vogel Hypericum: Due to its potential benefit is its analgesic properties, which have been traditionally associated with St. John's Wort. Some studies suggest that it may have a modulating effect on nerve pain, making it potentially helpful for managing the pain associated with sciatica. Additionally, St. John's Wort contains compounds like hypericin and hyperforin, which have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties in certain studies[xviii].
Pukka Turmeric Active: Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has been found to exhibit strong anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a key component of many conditions that cause sciatica, such as nerve root compression or herniated discs. By reducing inflammation, turmeric may help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with sciatica[xix][xx].
Other favourites for sciatica:
Bathing Beauty Jones the Bones Muscle and Joint Oil and Bathing Beauty Jones the Bones Bath Salts - Bath salts and natural bathing products such as these can be used as part of a holistic approach to managing sciatica symptoms.
Although it may seem counteractive aue to the pain, exercise is important for sciatica prevention and recovery. As your pain decreases and your endurance improves, create an exercise regimen that includes aerobics, core stability, and strength training[xxi]. Endorphins released during exercise are also great pain killers[xxii].
[i] Davis D, Maini K, Vasudevan A. Sciatica. [Updated 2022 May 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023.
[ii] M. A. Stafford, P. Peng, D. A. Hill, Sciatica: a review of history, epidemiology, pathogenesis, and the role of epidural steroid injection in management, BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia, Volume 99, Issue 4, October 2007, Pages 461–473
[iii] Koes BW, van Tulder MW, Peul WC. Diagnosis and treatment of sciatica. BMJ. 2007 Jun 23;334(7607):1313-7.
[iv] Euro, U., Heliövaara, M., Shiri, R. et al. Work-related risk factors for sciatica leading to hospitalization. Sci Rep 9, 6562 (2019).
[v] Robert Goldsmith, Nefyn Howard Williams and Fiona Wood BJGP Open 2019; 3 (3): bjgpopen19X101654
[vi] Unda SR, Villegas EA, Toledo ME, Asis Onell G, Laino CH. Beneficial effects of fish oil enriched in omega-3 fatty acids on the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2020 Mar;72(3):437-447.
[vii] Santos MCQ, Silva TCBD, Silva FBOD, Siebert C, Kroth A, Silveira EMS, Wyse ATS, Partata WA. Effects of vitamin D administration on nociception and spinal cord pro-oxidant and antioxidant markers in a rat model of neuropathic pain. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2021 Aug 6;54(10):e11207.
[viii] Baltrusch S. The Role of Neurotropic B Vitamins in Nerve Regeneration. Biomed Res Int. 2021 Jul 13;2021:9968228.
[ix] Mauro GL, Martorana U, Cataldo P, Brancato G, Letizia G. Vitamin B12 in low back pain: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2000 May-Jun;4(3):53-8. PMID: 11558625.
[x] Chen LH, Weber K, Mehrabkhani S, Baskaran S, Abbass T, Macedo LG. The effectiveness of weight loss programs for low back pain: a systematic review. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2022 May 23;23(1):488.
[xi] Rahman Shiri, Tea Lallukka, Jaro Karppinen, Eira Viikari-Juntura, Obesity as a Risk Factor for Sciatica: A Meta-Analysis, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 179, Issue 8, 15 April 2014, Pages 929–937
[xii] Pan HC, Sheu ML, Su HL, Chen YJ, Chen CJ, Yang DY, Chiu WT, Cheng FC. Magnesium supplement promotes sciatic nerve regeneration and down-regulates inflammatory response. Magnes Res. 2011 Jun;24(2):54-70.
[xiii] Akkaya S, Ogden M, Kartal B, Say B, Ceylan AF, Aydemir Akkaya M, Bakar B. Evaluation of the therapeutic effects of calcium dobesilate in sciatic nerve crush injury in rats. Injury. 2022 Nov;53(11):3624-3635
[xiv] Wang Y, Xiong ZL, Ma XL, Zhou C, Huo MH, Jiang XW, Yu WH. Acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid promotes sciatic nerve repair after injury: molecular mechanism. Neural Regen Res. 2022 Dec;17(12):2778-2784.
[xv] Wong KH, Naidu M, David P, Abdulla MA, Abdullah N, Kuppusamy UR, Sabaratnam V. Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:580752.
[xvi] Mata LRFD, Motter PGR, Azevedo C, Bernardes MFVG, Chianca TCM, Vasques CI. Complementary therapies in the control of male lower urinary tract symptoms: A systematic review. Rev Lat Am Enfermagem. 2022 Jul 15;30:e3597.
[xvii] Tiwari M. The role of serratiopeptidase in the resolution of inflammation. Asian J Pharm Sci. 2017 May;12(3):209-215.
[xviii] Uslusoy F, Nazıroğlu M, Övey İS, Sönmez TT. Hypericum perforatum L. supplementation protects sciatic nerve injury-induced apoptotic, inflammatory and oxidative damage to muscle, blood and brain in rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2019 Jan;71(1):83-92.
[xix] Basu P, Maier C, Basu A. Effects of Curcumin and Its Different Formulations in Preclinical and Clinical Studies of Peripheral Neuropathic and Postoperative Pain: A Comprehensive Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 28;22(9):4666.
[xx] Xiao L, Ding M, Fernandez A, Zhao P, Jin L, Li X. Curcumin alleviates lumbar radiculopathy by reducing neuroinflammation, oxidative stress and nociceptive factors. Eur Cell Mater. 2017 May 9;33:279-293.
[xxi] Arabzadeh E, Rahimi A, Zargani M, Feyz Simorghi Z, Emami S, Sheikhi S, Zaeri Amirani Z, Yousefi P, Sarshin A, Aghaei F, Feizolahi F. Resistance exercise promotes functional test via sciatic nerve regeneration, and muscle atrophy improvement through GAP-43 regulation in animal model of traumatic nerve injuries. Neurosci Lett. 2022 Sep 14;787:136812.
[xxii] Alexander Pilozzi, Caitlin Carro, and Xudong Huang
Neurochemistry Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(1), 338
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