Sciatica causes a sharp pain that no one enjoys experiencing. Fortunately, there are several proactive ways to reduce the pain. You might be surprised to learn that what’s in your fridge can help manage sciatica.
Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, of The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas in Pearland and Lake Jackson, Texas, diagnoses and treats conditions that affect the spine, such as sciatica, also referred to as lumbar radiculopathy.
Physical therapy is often the first recommendation for dealing with sciatica, but diet is also an important factor to consider. You might not even be aware of how many of the foods you regularly eat can contribute to sciatic nerve pain. Check out these diet hacks.
Sciatica is pain that emanates along your sciatic nerve, which travels from the back of the pelvis down the back of your thigh. It’s the longest and largest nerve in your body.
Pain occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes inflamed or compressed. The resulting irritation causes a characteristic sharp, searing, burning pain that shoots down one leg. The pain may be constant or it may come and go. In many cases, the pain worsens if you sit or stand for extended periods, or when you twist or bend.
Inflammation is the body’s natural healing response, but it can cause problems when it becomes chronic — it begins to damage healthy cells, resulting in a pro-inflammatory state. Along with other interventions, certain diet hacks can help swing the pendulum in the direction that combats inflammation and quells the pain of sciatica.
Research evaluating the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet on inflammatory conditions shows that swapping out pro-inflammatory foods for a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods significantly reduces pain and improves quality of life. This type of diet is based on whole, minimally processed foods that nourish the body.
Building your meals around whole grains, nuts, berries, leafy greens, legumes, and low-fat dairy is highly beneficial. Additionally, getting enough omega-3 fats from sources like fatty fish further helps to combat inflammation.
It’s also helpful to add green tea to your diet, which is rich in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, as well as anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric and ginger.
Limiting pro-inflammatory foods is just as vital as building anti-inflammatory meals. Foods high in fat and added sugar promote inflammation. This is an area to pay close attention to by cutting back and finding equally satisfying healthier versions of your favorite foods.
Additionally, research shows that cutting back on red meat helps combat inflammation.
In some cases, an inflammation-combating diet isn’t enough to manage sciatica. For example, if a herniated or bulging disc compressing your sciatic nerve is responsible for your pain, a change in eating habits, while it benefits your overall health, is unlikely to solve the problem.
Dr. Jones performs a thorough evaluation and recommends the most appropriate approach to bringing you sciatica relief. To get started, call our knowledgeable team at the location convenient to you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jones today.