Sciatica refers to pain that is experienced along the sciatic nerve which travels from the lower back and down each leg.
Common symptoms include:
Pain in the lower back, back of the leg, hip, rear and the severity of the pain can be different from person to person. It usually occurs at one side of the body.
Burning/tingling down the leg
Numbness in the leg or the foot
Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot.
What causes Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is a long nerve that travels from the lower back and down each leg, past the hips and buttocks. Sciatica occurs when this nerve becomes compressed/pinched. The compression can be a result of a herniated disk in your spine, a growth of bone on your vertebrae or sometimes a tumor. Disease such as diabetes can also cause damage. Sometimes after an injury around the leg or the spine, the muscles can contract and cause compression against the sciatica nerve.
Risk factors for sciatica include:
Age - increases the risk of the problems that can cause pinching to the sciatic nerve as mentioned above.
Obesity – results in more stress on the spine.
Sedentary lifestyle – more likely to develop sciatica than active people.
Occupation – jobs that require twisting or carrying heavy loads could increase the risk.
Diabetes – can cause nerve damage.
It is not always possible to prevent sciatica but there are some things that could help:
Posture – avoid compression with the spine when sitting/lifting and maintain proper alignment.
Exercise – Keep the spine healthy and strengthen core and back muscles. Yoga can help.
If natural methods don’t cure your problem a doctor might suggest treatment and medication such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, narcotics. tricyclic antidepressants, anti-seizure medications.
Recommended yoga poses:
Studies have shown that yoga can help relieve some of the symptoms of sciatica. Yoga postures which can help include the following:
Half- Seated Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Pigeon pose (Rajakapotasana)
Locust Pose (Salambhasana)
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Supported Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
Staff pose (Dandasana)
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
More guidance on some of the yoga poses:
Note of Caution:
If you think you have sciatica it is advisable to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor. You should seek medical attention if you are having severe weakness/numbness in the legs or experience loss of bladder or bowel control.
If you have a medical condition and are thinking of taking up a yoga practice, it is advisable that you consult with you doctor.
If you are on medication, check with your doctor before taking other medications such as painkillers and always read the labels to ensure you do not exceed the recommended dose.