Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sciatic Pain Relief with Yoga

Sciatic nerve pain and Yoga - wikimediacommons
Sciatic nerve pain and Yoga 
Sciatica pain radiates from stimulation or compression of the long sciatic nerve from the buttock on down the leg. Yoga exercise may provide relief for butt and leg pain.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. If inflamed, the pain may begin as a tingling or be a sharp dagger-like reaction from sacrum on down to the heel of the foot of the side where the pain originated. It can gnaw like a toothache of the thigh or butt.

What Causes Sciatic Pain of the Hip or Leg?

Sometimes the cause of the pain is obvious and sudden but other times the person has no idea how this pain has crept up on them. Certain behaviors can increase the risk for sciatic pain, including the following:
  • Certain occupations with prolonged sitting are prone to sciatic pain, for example, long-term truck drivers or office workers.
  • Sitting with crossed legs puts emphasis on one buttock cheek more than the other.
  • Sitting on a wallet or object in the back pocket can compress the nerve.
  • A single or repeated wrong move or twist can start the inflammatory process.
  • A bulging disc or herniation or any situation where the spine compresses onto the nerve.

Movements and Postures to Relieve or Resolve Sciatic Pain of the Hip, Butt, or Leg

Attempt some of the following moves only as the body allows. This is a gradual cure. No one treatment is the answer for everyone. A completely incapacitating lumbosacral radicularsyndrome (sciatica) might necessitate surgical intervention. If the pain interferes with voiding, immediate medical help should be sought.
  • The classic move is to lie on the back, bending one leg at a time, pulling it toward the chest to stretch the surrounding muscles and fibers on the working and supporting leg. Both hips remain parallel on the floor.
  • From the above position, try a low back roll. The knees are toward the chest as the body gently rolls slightly to one side and then the other softly massaging the lower back against the floor.
  • Yoga asanas and repetition of stretching of muscles help by gradually releasing tightness and spasm.
  • Intense side stretch or extended triangle (Utthita Trikonasana). Brace the back heel and push out that hip while extending forward and reaching down to support self with the same hand as leg forward. See photo 2.
  • A seated twist (Bharadvaja twist, photo 3) is simpler where both legs are bent. One knee points to the front of the room and the other to the side as the body turns toward the forward leg while keeping both buttocks on the floor. The head turns toward the back of the room in both directions to complete the twist of the spine.
  • Rocking side to side with knees hugged to the chest and letting then fall to one side, holding it for five breaths and then back to the middle and repeat to the other side. While breathing in and out try to release the tension in the muscles with the exhaled breath.
  • Downward facing dog stretching. Use two blocks or large books to place your forward hands to release some of the pressure on the back without losing any of the stretch while bending forward from the waist to an arms length in front of the hips. (photo 4)
Do not work into the pain but along side it, that means if discomfort is acute, stop. Look for classes labeled gentle yoga or restorative yoga. Sciatic pain is nerve pain but protecting the area may cause the surrounding muscles to tighten and further compress the nerve and stiffen surrounding joints and back.

Walking and sitting aggravate the pain but the gradual practice of yoga stretching, breathing, and core work to maintain posture and back strength will relieve the discomfort and possibly prevent recurrence.

NEJM 356 (22)2245-2246 May31,2007
The Lancet, What is sciatica?, 24 September 2003
Journal of Spinal Disorders: Conservative Treatment of Sciatica: A Systematic Review, Volume 13 - Issue 6 - pp 463-469 December 2000
Indian J Med Sci Yoga for Rehabilitation : An overview. Telles S, Naveen KV.1997;51:123-7

* Accessed from Article by Amy Andersen.
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