By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Published June 14, 2019, Last updated June 14, 2019
What is Sciatica
Sciatica is the name given to the pain due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve. This pain normally radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. A compressed sciatic nerve is the usual cause of sciatica. Before we come to the homeopathic medicines for sciatica, let us understand a little more about the sciatic nerve and sciatica.
What is Sciatic Nerve
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. It is the major nerve of the lower limb. Nerves from the L4 till the S3 spinal column band together to form the sciatic nerve. This band is almost 2 cm thick. It starts from the lower back, specifically the lumbosacral plexus. Thereafter, it runs through the hip or the buttock, thigh and down to the foot.
The sciatic nerve supplies sensation to almost all of the lateral and posterior side of the leg and also the foot. That is precisely why patients with sciatica feel the pain in back of the leg or side of the leg all the way from the hip to the foot.
Cause of Sciatica
The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc from the spinal column. Such a herniated disc impinges on the spinal nerve or a part of it. A disc is a normal cushion between two vertebrae. It helps in movement and flexibility of the spinal column.
It can also occur due to a spinal spur or an overgrowth from the spine. Such a growth can also press the sciatic nerve. In rare cases, a tumor can also cause sciatica. One feels pain in part of the leg corresponding to the nerve root that gets involved.
Risk Factors for Sciatica
- Old age- as age progresses, the chances of disc herniation increases. The flexibility of spine decreases over age. Any sudden jerk or lifting of heavy weights can contribute to the problem.
- Obesity – it is one of the biggest risk factors. The spine bears all of the weight of the body. As body weight increases, pressure on the spine increases.
- Lifting heavy weights – if you lift heavy weights, the slightest of jerks can cause a disc to lose its normal place. This results in pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Sedentary lifestyle – sitting in one position for long hours can contribute to this problem. It has multiple dimensions. Prolonged sitting tends to increase obesity as well as weakens the spinal muscles. Flexibility of the spine also lessens as one keeps on sitting and avoids exercise.
- Diabetes- it is again a major risk factor. The way body uses its sugar changes in diabetics and contributes to nerve damage. Diabetic neuropathy is the name for this damage to the nerves.
Symptoms of Sciatica
The most prominent symptom of sciatica is the pain that radiates from the lower back to the hip, thigh, knee and down the leg. This pain may occur anywhere along the course of the sciatic nerve. Some patients feel the pain only from the hip to the knee. Others feel the pain just in the thigh. Still others may feel it from the knee down the leg. Some feel the pain only in the calf muscle.
The character and intensity of pain may vary from patient to patient. Some patients feel a pinching pain, some have a burning pain while others feel a dull pain. The intensity of the pain may vary from a mild ache to severe excruciating pain. The pain usually gets worse on coughing or sneezing.
There may be numbness or tingling along the sciatic nerve in some cases. The sciatic pain usually gets worse on standing or sitting for long. Beginning to walk may again worsen the pain but it may get better on walking for some time. It is quite common to have pain only in one leg.
Management of Sciatica
A couple of easy things can help manage sciatica. Regular walks can help reduce the pain. Hot fomentation can also reduce the pain and spasm. It is important to strengthen the back muscles. Yogic exercises like bhuangasana, shalabhasana, dhanurasana and ushtrasana are very helpful in managing sciatica. One should avoid bending forwards and lifting weights or any jerky movements.
Treatment of Sciatica
The usual treatment in the allopathic system of medicine is to keep giving painkillers. This helps in managing the pain. Rest and painkillers are the mainstay of the allopathic treatment. In some cases where this does not relieve, steroidal injections are given. All this is just temporary management of the symptoms. This does not in any way treat the basic cause of sciatica.
Homeopathic treatment of Sciatica
Homeopathy aims at treating sciatica permanently. Therefore it does not believe in giving painkillers or muscle relaxants. Homeopathic medicines try to provide strength to the nerves and muscles of the back that are involved. The culprit disc can slowly slip back into its normal space once the muscles are toned up. Once this happens, there is no pain or discomfort. Since this is not an easy task, it does take some time and requires patience on the part of the patient. Doing regular walk and exercises helps a lot in curing sciatica quickly.
5 best homeopathic medicines for sciatica
Here are the 5 best homeopathic medicines for sciatica. These medicines are very effective in the treatment of sciatica. Please understand that this is not an exhaustive list of the homeopathic medicines for sciatica. One has to often use other medicines. The exact choice of medicine depends on the symptom totality of the concerned patient. Nevertheless, these 5 medicines are very commonly indicated and successfully cure the patient if the symptoms of the medicine match with that of the patient.
Ammonium Mur- Best homeopathic medicines for sciatica that is worse on sitting
Bryonia – One of the best homeopathic medicines for sciatica that is worse on walking
Gnaphalium – One of the best homeopathic remedies for sciatica with numbness
Mag Phos – One of the best homeopathy medicines for sciatica that is better by warmth and pressure
Rhus Tox – One of the best homeopathic medicines for sciatica that is better by movement
Here is a brief description of the above mentioned medicines. For want of space, only a brief description is being given.
Ammonium Mur – One of the best homeopathic medicines for sciatica that is worse on sitting.
When the sciatica is worse while sitting and is better on lying down, Ammonium Mur is one of the best homeopathic medicines for sciatica. There is contraction in the back part of the thigh and calf area. The pain is shooting and tearing in nature. Tips of the toes pain. Generally speaking, the patient feels better in open air.
Bryonia – One of the best homeopathic medicines for sciatica that is worse on walking.
When the pain gets worse while walking, Bryonia is one of the best homeopathic medicines for sciatica. All the pains are better by rest and get worse while walking. The pain is stitching and tearing in nature. Warmth aggravates the pain. Pressure and lying on the painful side relieves the pain.
Gnaphalium – One of the best homeopathic remedies for sciatica with numbness.
When the sciatic pain is attended by numbness of the affected part, Gnaphalium is one of the best homeopathic remedies for sciatica. This numbness may even alternate with pain in the leg. The pain is felt more in the calf and the foot. There are cramps in the calf muscles while lying in bed.
Mag Phos – One of the best homeopathy medicines that is better by warmth and pressure.
When warmth and pressure relieve the pain, Mag Phos is one of the best homeopathic medicines for sciatica. The feet are very tender and have darting pains. In other cases, the pains are crampy in nature.
Rhus Tox – One of the best homeopathic medicines for sciatica that is better by movement.
When the pain is worse on staying still and improves on moving, Rhus Tox is one of the best homeopathic medicines for sciatica. The pain is usually worse in cold and damp weather. It gets better with warmth. Night time is worse for the sciatica patient.