Sciatica can really be a giant pain in the …

The sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in the body. They emerge from the lower right and left sides of the spinal column and continue to the soles of the feet.

Sciatic nerve pain can be caused by various diseases of the lower back, such as degenerative, slipped or ruptured discs in the low back, or sciatic pain can be caused by pressure exerted from the piriformis muscle.

Sciatic pain can also be caused by a pelvic injury, a pelvic tumor or diabetes which causes neuropathy leading to sciatica. In some cases the motor aspect of the nerves is involved resulting in weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the affected leg and or foot.

The classic sign of sciatica is pain from the low back or gluteal muscles that reaches down the back of the thigh down to the calf or foot. The pain is usually only on one side, and can range in intensity. The pain may present as a stabbing sharp pain, a burning feeling, a dull ache, or numbness and tingling. It can also be constant or occur occasionally and it can be brought on or worsened by normal changes in body positions such as simply standing up form a seated position.

Treatment for sciatica can vary with the specific cause, obviously. In the acute phase, ice packs interspersed with heat packs may be helpful and avoidance of any movement that may strain the back. The ice will numb the pain and heat will reduce the inflammation. Once the worst is over, it is important to do exercises to strengthen the core and the back muscles to help reduce stress on the back.

In very severe cases, steroid injections into the back or even surgery may be recommended. Chiropractic manipulation is also a method that can be helpful to relieve sciatic nerve pain by realigning the spinal column. Acupuncture is also a treatment that has been practiced for many centuries in China and is said to increase the energy flow to parts of the body by inserting needles in the target points of pain. Massage may also be recommended by your health care provider to increase blood circulation and relieve muscle tightness.

Dr. Mark Kovacs, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, suggests that the best way to alleviate sciatic pain is to do any stretch that will externally rotate the hip to provide relief. Some exercises that externally rotates the hip are the yoga pigeon pose, in either the reclining mode, the sitting mode or the forward pose. Another position to externally rotate your hip is to bring your knee to the opposite shoulder while lying down.

If any of these movement case pain, you should stop. If you don’t know what to do, call a physio therapist or a certified and expereinced personal fitness trainer for advice and help. You should not try to fix this condition on your own, but seek medical and physical advice.

You also can’t expect to have great flexibility right away especially if you are out of shape. Working the core and the low back to gain strength and stability can go a long way to improving your condition with sciatic pain but like everything else it takes time and effort and especially it takes knowing what you are doing. Consult the experts.


Jane Riley is a certified personal trainer, adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at or (808) 212-8119 and


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