Sciatica is a common form of neuralgia or pain in the nerves. It generally affects the sciatic nerve that emerges from the pelvis and runs down to the back of the thigh, ending up to feet. Sciatica is mostly associated with the symptom of leg pain accompanied by a possible tingling, numbness or weakness that originates in the lower back and travels through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of the leg. Often the pain is in only in one leg, and rarely affects both sides. Sciatica is also often referred to as ‘hip-joint’ disease.
Pain in one leg starting from the hip-joint and radiating to the toe, accompanied by numbness and sore pain.
Lying down on the bed on the painful side becomes difficult.
Touch such as jerk, shock, increases intensity of pain.
Sometimes the symptoms are also accompanied by chronic constipation.
A sharp pain that may make standing up or walking difficult.
Usually symptoms clear up within six weeks.
Common cause of sciatica could be a herniated disc, which develops a tear or crack and bulges into the spinal canal. This can pinch the sciatic nerve.
Generally, the pain is caused due to pressure on a nerve caused by prolapsed inter-vertebral disc between the lumbar vertebrae. Sciatica is often caused due to exposure to cold and damp. Any pressure on the nerve within the pelvis, such as those produced by a tumour, may also trigger an attack of sciatica. The pain is felt a little behind the hip joint at first, and gradually increases in severity and extends along the course of the nerve and its branches. The painful points are the places from which nerve emerges like from the pelvis at the lower margin of the buttocks and around the knee and ankle joints.
According to Ayurveda, the disease is caused due to the onset of vayu (wind, air) aggravation. Sometimes, vitiation of kapha and vata is also responsible for the onset of attack. Sometimes, constipation is responsible for the attack of sciatica.
Treatment of Sciatica
The first step that you could try at home is to keep a folded pillow/sheet underneath your hips, and keep a pillow under the affected foot, so that pressure is reduced on the great nerve. Cover the painful portion and apply hot fomentation.
Eranda (Ricinus commumunis) is the drug of choice for sciatica. This is given with two teaspoonfuls at bed time with a cup of warm water or milk. Eranda also acts as a laxative, and helps patients.
Yogaraja Guggulu is another medicine administered in the form of tablets (2 each) four times a day with water or milk.
Guggulu Tiktaka Ghrita (50ml) and honey (10ml) may be administered as retention enema.
For external massage in the affected part, ‘Saindhavadi Taila’ or ‘Mahavishagarbha Taila’ is administered, after which, hot fomentation need to be applied. The limb should be covered with warm cloth to maintain the heat. Hot fomentation with a bag of salt is also useful in alleviating pain of sciatica.
Mix 240g of Vataganjakusha and 3gm of Vaishwanara Churna and take twice daily after meals with warm water or decoction of Manjishta.
Tryodashank Guggul 1gm should be mixed with Mritasanjeevani Sura/hot milk/hot water and had thrice daily.
Vrihat Vata Chintamani Rasa (100-125mg) is an excellent remedy when mixed with other medicines referred to above or given independently. It will hasten quicker relief.
Diet: Avoid fried foods, pulses, beans, curds, whey and sour substances. Mix saffron in small quantities with milk and drink regularly. It is said that intake of magnesium-rich foods may be beneficial, as it helps release muscle contractions. Therefore, dairy products, fish, meat, apples, apricots, brown rice, may be a good inclusion in your diet.
Lifestyle and yoga – Avoid cold and damp weather conditions. If health permits, do some light exercises that do not cause a jerk or trauma. When walking, support a lumbar-sarcal, but, belt should not be used at night as it would retard blood circulation.
As for yoga, gentle forms are beneficial, as it helps strengthen muscles and improve flexibility. Yoga practice helps sciatica patients to move and function better so that they do not fall into a posture that aggravates the sciatica. Bhujangasana or Sarpasana, Halasana or Shalabhasana, can be practised under the supervision of a yoga teacher.