Anybody who has ever experienced pain radiating along the sciatic nerve understands the title of this post. Also, if you have never experienced this sort of pain let me put it into perspective how bad it is. Vets often have dogs who will bite through their own limbs in an attempt to relieve the pain caused by nerve damage. Luckily, the average human being lacks enough flexibility to bite through their own leg but may consider it on days when this condition is flaring up (this is a joke).
Story Time. In 2014, I experienced a serious back injury causing the most severe chronic pain I have ever had in my life. While lifting a large piece of equipment at work, I ended up bulging my L5-S1 disc. The doctor told me I would never lift ever again. I was left with two options: quit lifting (not a real option) or develop a solution to my problem. I was not going to spend the rest of my life trying to find a magical pill or surgical treatment that would fix me. So after years of self-administered rehabilitation, I proved that doctor wrong.
In order for you to fix your own problem, you need to identify what imbalance is causing this pain. Sciatic pain can be caused by a number of issues but fortunately the location of this nerve limits to scope of the search. Possibility number one: you have a discfunction (get it veterbral disc and dysfunction combined). A vertebral disc pressing on the nerve is causing the pain in your leg. Possibility number two: Sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Believe it or not, your spine is connected to your hips at a joint. YOU ARE NOT A SOLID MASS OF BONE. This joint is incredibly neglected because the movement in it is very limited and should not be noticeable. However, when the hodgepodge of muscles that inserts at this joint are imbalanced they often wreak havoc on the sciatic nerve bundle. Possibility number three: you have both. Whenever one of these injuries occurs, the body will compensate and cause the other functional disorder from imbalanced repetition.
The fix. You must resist every instinct to become sedentary from the pain. This is the worst thing you can do. Your muscles surrounding the injury will lock up in an attempt to protect the injured area and will only cause more damage than good. Be smarter than your body. Remain active and identify what caused the injury. All of us favor one side of our body. This can cause a complete lack of coordination on the opposite side of your body (try throwing a ball with your non-dominant hand…..you will look like an idiot). Additionally, a tell-tale sign is an abnormal gait when you walk. If you ever close your eyes and try to walk in a straight line you will eventually make a large circle due to the discrepancy in stride length. Your mind has built a subconscious comfort with over utilizing one side, therefore causing a functional imbalance, culminating in chronic pain. More often than not, this pain is from years repetition rather than a single instance. You must restore balance through flexibility and strengthening exercises. This will require a number of training methods but I have provided a few that proved very beneficial in managing my pain.
1. Nerve Flossing. In short, the process of nerve flossing mobilizes the impinged nerve and muscles surrounding it. This relieves a substantial amount of pain, especially if habitually practiced.
Step 1: Sit down in a chair.
Step 2: Extend your leg with your toes pointed up, while simultaneously curving at the back by looking down at your hips.
2. Cat-Cow Pose. This simple Yoga Pose will induce flexion and extension in your spine. Vertebral discs are cartilage discs that provide cushion. By flexing and extending your spine, your vertebrae will grind and wear down the damaged piece of cartilage relieving pressure on the nerve.
Step 1: Begin on your hands and knees.
Step 2: Raise your back like a cat while bringing your gaze towards your hips.
Step 3: Lower your spine towards the ground while bringing your gaze up to the ceiling.
3. Trunk Twist. This stretch will improve the twisting function of your spine and provide the same benefit of the cat-cow pose just in a different dimension.
Step 1: Lay down flat on the ground with your arms out as a T.
Step 2: Raise your knee to your chest.
Step 3: Rotate the inside of your knee to the floor while transferring your gaze to the opposite of your body.
Complete all of these exercises in 3 sets of 20 at least two times per day. For these to work you must remained disciplined. After all, this is to relieve your pain. Your commitment will be directly related to your decrease in pain.
40% of people are being treated for sciatic pain in the present day. So if it happens to you, make sure you get the correct diagnosis from a medical professional. Serious issues such as spinal tumors can be diagnosed by the presence of this pain. Additionally, if you have this condition and you ever lose control of your limbs, bladder, or bowel this a serious symptom and must been treated by a doctor immediately. However if none of these apply to you, the presence of sciatic pain should not limit your life or well-being. Accept the problem and correct it through the proper means. Listen to your body but, DO NOT allow your body to control you.