Sciatica is a general term for pain originating from the sciatic nerve which starts at the back of the pelvis and runs downward through the hip area and buttocks into each leg. Sciatica is a symptom of a disorder that causes mild to sharp and sometimes excruciating pain. Sciatic nerve pain travels from the buttock, down the back of the thigh, and into the leg. Leg pain is the classic hallmark of sciatica. Low back pain may accompany sciatica, and some patients experience sciatic pain extending into the foot. Another characteristic of sciatica is, it usually affects either the lower left or right side of the body.
Ayurvedic perspective : Ayurveda described sciatica as Gridhrasi (Gridhra means Vulture), as the gait of the affected person resembles that of an eagle’s walk and the inflamed nerve appears like an eagle's beak. Ayurveda categorized Sciatica as one of diseases caused by vitiation of Vata (one of the main dosha in the body, responsible for the movement and functionality of the body). Sometimes even kapha (dosha responsible for lubrication and bodily fluids) vitiation along with Vata (vata kaphaja) also causes sciatica.
Pressing of the Sciatic nerve and inflammation of the areas surrounding the Sciatic nerve lead to this medical condition.
- Diet: Intake of too much spicy,cold,dry food, Improper eating habits, Eating incompatible foods and Diet which are irrespective of seasons regimen as per Ayurveda causes Sciatica.
- Lifestyle:Damage to the Sciatic nerve can be caused through strenuous activity such as lifting weights or over-exposure to cold wind. Prolonged sitting or lying with pressure on the buttocks may also damage the nerve. Systemic diseases such as diabetes can typically damage many different nerves, including the Sciatica nerve. The Sciatic nerve could also be injured by fracture of the pelvis, or other trauma to the buttocks or thighs.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Pain in lower back.
- The pain moves in the backside of the leg, which deteriorates while walking, sitting and standing.
- Feeling of a stretching rope like thing in the leg.
- Pain in hip joint.
- Tingling sensation anywhere in the leg.
- In severe cases, burning sensation.
- Weakness and numbness in lower limb.
- After standing in place or while long walk, feeling of heaviness in leg and inability to move leg.
- Shooting pain in the lower limb which disables walking and standing.
- Inability to stand straight.
- Constant sensation of pain in the lower limb even while sleeping.
DIET: A large proportion of the diet must be carbohydrates, which facilitate proper movement of bowels, thereby bettering the body’s digestion. Green leafy vegetables should be incorporated in the diet as they provide fibre which improves digestion and elimination of wastes. Fruits such as bananas and apples are recommended. Heavy meals must be avoided as they take a long time to digest. This may exert undue pressure on the lower back region.
SELF HELP: While sleeping, lie straight on your back or with bent knees supported by a pillow. Do some light sciatica exercise such as light walking and jogging. Do not exercise if your condition is extremely painful. Taking hot and cold compresses on an alternate basis can be quite helpful in relieving pain.
CONTROLLABLE RISK FACTORS: Obesity causing stress on your spine, Occupations in which you twist your back or carry heavy loads or drive a motor vehicle for long periods might play a role in sciatica. Prolonged sitting and Diabetes which affects the way your body uses blood sugar, increases your risk of nerve damage.
Exercise your core muscles — the muscles in your abdomen and lower back that are essential for proper posture and alignment. Maintain proper posture when you sit. Avoid standing for long periods, Find a lifting partner if the object is heavy or awkward.
Treatment in Ayurveda is aimed at restoring the equilibrium through correction of the underlying functional in-equilibrium. Ayurvedic treatments for Sciatica concentrate on bringing back the aggravated vata or vata kapha to the state of equilibrium and thereby to the state of health.
Treatment comprises of three approaches:-
- Elimination (Sodhanam) of the accumulated toxic products of digestion, metabolism and the disease process.
- Pacification (Samanam) and correction of the entities responsible for altered functioning.
- Rejuvenation (Rasayanam) of the bodily tissue to regain and maintain natural strength and vitality. The strength of Ayurveda in the area of spine and joint treatments is globally appreciated. Since it addresses the root cause of the issue the results are fantastic.
- Therapies like Dhanyamla dhara, Abyanga swedam, Pathrapotali swedam (Elakizhi), Sarvangadhara (Pizhichil), Kadeevasthy, Navarakizhi, Vasti (the most important procedure in Ayurveda for curing Sciatica permanently) etc., are done as per the necessity and condition. These therapies are directed towards relieving the inflammatory changes and underlying causes of Sciatica, releasing the spasms and nerve compressions in the affected area, strengthening and nourishing the entire spine & supporting tissues.
- Along with these therapies, Ayurveda has also described Sira vedana (Venesection) and Agni karma (Heat therapy) for treating Sciatica.
- Internal medications with a combination of internal herbal pills, herbal decoctions(kashaya) and Arishttas, are done in strict accordance with the chronicity of the condition and status of the patient. External oil applications and hot fomentation are also useful.
In four to six weeks, the majority of patients find their symptoms relieved with Ayurvedic treatment or even earlier with therapies lik Agnikarma.
Before throwing pharmaceuticals into your life at the problem of reducing symptoms, realize that to fully uproot disease nothing short of a re-evaluation of one’s way of being according to Ayurvedic principles will suffice.