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© 2015 by The Herb Clinic Sunshine Coast

  • Leanne Vickery

Chronic Lower Back Pain or Sciatica

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome refers to when the piriformis muscle irritates the sciatic nerve and causes pain along the back of the leg and foot. The piriformis muscle starts at the lower spine and connects to the upper surface of each femur (thighbone). It functions to assist in rotating the hip and turning the leg and foot outward, it runs diagonally, with the sciatic nerve running vertically directly beneath it (although in some people the nerve can run through the muscle). Although Runners can be prone to this condition, it is also an issue with people who have sedentary jobs (sitting for long periods) or driving.

Symptoms of PS often become worse after prolonged sitting, walking or running. You may feel better after lying down on your back.

Diagnosis of Piriformis syndrome –Diagnosis is mainly based on clinical symptoms – pain, numbness and tingling sensation in the buttock on the affected side, symptoms radiating along the course of the Sciatic nerve along the back of the thigh and leg, reaching to the foot.



Natural treatment for Piriformis Syndrome


Rest

For any kind of painful condition, rest is the best remedy. The best way to get rest is by lying down on a flat surface (floor) by putting a soft pillow underneath the knees. One should sleep in this position for at least 1 ½ – 2 hours. After that they can change their position. By keeping the pillow beneath and between your legs, the spine (back) will come to a straight position and hence will relax.


Massage Therapy

Application of pain relieving cream or ointment made from menthol, capsaicin etc should be done on the painful area and a light massage given. Vigorous massage should be avoided.


Infrared Light

Infrared light will help you to get relief from pain related to PS, sciatica and low back pain. The infrared light will act on your nerves, soothe them and make you feel relaxed and pain-free.


Spinal Decompression Exercise

You need to stand with your feet at a shoulder length apart. Raise your hands above your head so that your biceps are in line with your ears. This will stretch the upper back. Next, tilt your pelvis forwards slightly to straighten out your lower back. Now bend slowly. Move in the upward direction in the same way. Repeat this 9-10 times.


Balanced Diet

Wholesome and balanced diet, predominantly comprising of organic and seasonal fruits and vegetables is the key for good health. It is also a wholesome practice for those whose immunity is down and out and those who are suffering from chronic and stubborn ailments.

Balanced diet helps your body to experience healing faster and it complements medicines and treatment. Juices of citrus fruits like lemon, orange etc will improve the immune system and help in reducing the inflammation. Constipation is one condition which can worsen the pain in PS and Sciatica. Fibre rich food will help in relieving constipation and help in healing these conditions.


Water

Take a lot of water to keep self hydrated. The bones and muscles too need hydration. Water reduces inflammation, keeps you and your tissues hydrated, replenishes you and relieves constipation.


Herbs:


Turmeric

Turmeric has an anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin which helps reduce nerve pain and inflammation.

Turmeric can be used regularly as a part of food preparations and also as a medicine. It relieves lower back pain, catches, swelling, inflammation and muscle spasms and thus is a handy remedy in Piriformis syndrome and sciatica. Its powder form is used abundantly. It is also available in the form of tablets and capsules. For good results 300mg of turmeric shall be used thrice daily. 1 spoon turmeric powder dispersed in a glass of milk can be taken alternatively as the first thing in the morning and also at bedtime.

Alternately you can add 1 tsp turmeric powder to a cup of milk. You can also add a small cinnamon stick or powder. Boil the solution. Later when it gets warm, add 1 spoon honey and drink it once or twice daily. Turmeric may not be suitable for those taking blood thinners or diabetes medications. Those suffering from gallstones should also avoid it.


Elderberry

The fruits, leaves and flowers of this plant have medicinal use. They relax the muscles, soothe the nerves and relieve pain. 1 glass of Elderberry juice shall be consumed twice daily.


Burdock Root

It is said to be one of the best remedies for Sciatica and PS. The powder of the root shall be taken in a dose of 1-2 tsp mixed in water, 2-3 times per day.


White Willow Bark

This herb can also be used for long-standing pain relief in PS and sciatica. it contains phenolic glycosides with salicin, providing anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits. White willow bark supplement of 120 or 240 mg salicin should be consumed daily for several weeks. It should be done in consultation with a doctor.


St. John’s Wort

This imparts its highly effective anti-inflammatory and sedative properties on the irritated nerves, soothe them and provide relief.

Jamaican Dogwood – This herb can be applied in the form of a tincture over the affected part. It can also be taken in the form of a capsule to alleviate sciatic nerve pain. This is not recommended for lactating and pregnant women.


Capsaicin Cream

Cayenne pepper contains an active ingredient called capsaicin that works as a natural pain reliever. It helps deplete the levels of a neurotransmitter called substance P, which transports pain signals. Cream or ointment containing 0.025% to 0.075% capsaicin is readily available.

It can be liberally applied on the painful area up to 4 times per day for a week or 10 days. It may initially cause burning sensation. Talk to your doctor in such case. Do not use without prescription. Don’t apply the ointment or cream over broken skin or wounds.


Activities


Epsom Salt Tub-Bath

Add 2 cups of Epsom salt to hot water filled in your bath-tub. Sit in the tub and soak yourself for ½ an hour in the Epsom salt added hot water. You will appreciate that your muscles would have relaxed and the pain has soothed out.


Stretching Exercises

Sitting for a long time will add on to the pressure on the piriformis muscle and sciatic nerve and aggravate pains. Therefore we need to get up and perform some stretching exercises once in 3-4 hours.



Yoga

There are many asana’s explained in the context of Yoga which help in healing pain of piriformis syndrome and sciatica. We have included a video of an online yoga sequence that we use and love ourselves.



We sourced this information from http://easyayurveda.com/2016/04/19/butt-pain-piriformis-syndrome/ as we couldn't have put it any better!

The team at the Herb Clinic are available for massage, infrared heat light therapy, acupuncture and herbal tonics and teas.

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