Friday, August 1, 2008

Sciatica

My approach is multi-pronged.
 
First, I'll want you to have seen an MD or Chiropractor, so we can be sure your problem is within the realm of my practice. There is no sense in your seeing me, if the cause of your pain is a tumor, for instance. It is always a good idea to rule out serious pathology. True, the kind of work I do cannot cause any harm, but if another kind of treatment is indicated and urgently needed quickly - I would be remiss if I gave  you pain relief, and you continued to see me instead of doing the surgery, or whatever. There can be many causes for sciatica. Please don't ignore this. 

When  you come to me,  you come for Feldenkrais and Ortho-Bionomy, the two protocols in which I have been trained. And, that is what I do. However, over the years, I have picked up a lot of information and ideas, ways of working with sciatica that I may choose to share with you, not as a client, but as a friend, and only if you are interested or ask me. Many of these ideas I share with you below - please don't think that is what I do with all my sciatica clients. No, I do Feldenkrais and Ortho-Bionomy - and I do integrate some acupressure, stretching, isometrics etc that are completely in harmony with Ortho-Bionomy and Feldenkrais. In fact, I do not draw a distinction, I use certain massage ideas, acupressure point release, stretching, etc in the context of improving your awareness and enhancing your movement- and that is certainly Feldenkrais. 

Once you have done medical screening, we can be confident that if within a few weeks your pain is gone, as if it never existed (this is the result I expect, and usually get) - we have gotten to the root of your problem and you'll know what to do from then on to stay out of pain.  On the other hand, if all my strategies do nothing, that is a big red flag, and I'll advise you to seek medical help, and soon. 

I'll want to be sure you are sitting, walking, standing, bending down or reaching and sleeping in ways that do not aggravate the condition. We'll cover each of these. Yes, even while sleeping, there are strategies that will minimize your pain, and speed your healing. If you sit down for a living - many hours - I will ask you to read my posts on chairs and sitting, and I will encourage you to buy and use a hard, flat wooden stool both for work and for home use.  Every session I will cover some aspect of one of these; it is important that you learn not to continually create more trouble with the sciatic nerve. 

Eventually we will discuss how to sit using various props to keep the body from sitting too long in one position - this alone can give good relief. This presentation will take about 20 minutes. I'll ask you to tell me when your pain is worse, and when it improves. We'll theorize as to why this may be. 

We will work to put your pelvis and lumbar spine in good alignment, so that there is no leg length difference, or at least a very minimal difference. Often, this too - all by itself - can give good relief. We'll do this using the protocols I have gathered from Feldenkrais, Ortho-Bionomy, and the book (and related DVD's) titled The Malalignment Syndrome by Dr. Wolf Schamberger, a Canadian sports physiologist and University Professor. For more on the topic of alignment (including where to order instructional DVDs), see my post titled Running and Skeletal Alignment. These protocols are simple, safe, easy to do alone at home without assistance, and you can even clearly check yourself, to know whether you are "in" or "out" so you won't be hurting yourself if you do the exercises when you really don't need them. In conjunction with this, of course, I will be looking to see whether your malalignment is being caused by your movement and postural habits, or perhaps whether it is being caused by, say, an old injury to a shoulder, hip, skull or leg - whatever. 

I'll ask you to use castor oil topically and to read my posts about castor oil. This will take the pain down to half, speed the  healing and help you move through your day without difficulty. 

I will use acupressure, reflexology and Ortho-Bionomy osteopathic techniques to calm the pain, release and align the lumbar spine and pelvis, and often in one session this will entirely remove the sciatica pain, and enable you to walk without pain. Whether it holds or not is another story.

Then, we'll move the leg slowly, gently, using Feldenkrais protocols to encourage the leg and the sciatic nerve to "move into length";  in other words, to move the leg without the nerve grabbing painfully. Yes, nerves can "grab"; they are not like muscles, but they do have a cell wall that can expand or contract. Anticipation or fear of incipient pain will definitely cause the nerve to contract, which in itself can be a source of more pain. It can be a cycle. Slow, comfortable, clever and gentle Feldenkrais movement it the key here. All the other work is just a preparation. 

A central issue that is handled by the Feldenkrais work concerns the pelvis. We want to wake up the innate intelligence of the pelvis to help us balance and move, in sitting, standing, walking and at all other times in life. We'll usually start with pelvis rolls.  Waking up the pelvis to organic movement takes time, and may not give instant results for your sciatica. But if your pelvis has been just a "dead weight" while sitting or standing, your poor lumbar spine has had to do double work to compensate. Often the lumbar spine will get kinked and compressed because of that (a prime cause of sciatica) - and while alignment work, osteopathic based work, and acupressure interventions can relive the pain, long term it is the pelvis and tailbone that must eventually come into play, for success to be certain and permanent. That's a job for intensive, regular, and most likely, rather prolonged Feldenkrais work.

I'll remind you, if it seems appropriate, that holding the belly too tight will freeze down the coordination of the belly and low back, and this contributes to compression of the lumbar spine. That alone might be the prime cause of your sciatica. In this vein we might even work with your breathing in a Feldenkrais context, or with ATM moves involving the pelvis and belly, such as the pelvic clock. Practice of abdominal breathing, or other types of breathing may be recommended. We'll probably spend at least one session, eventually, on breathing.

As well, we do whatever comes to mind. I let my natural wandering instincts come into play. Perhaps  you need to learn to sense and release your body weight more easily into your skeleton, while sitting or standing. Or, maybe I'll feel that you need lots of slow, gently mobilization of your arms and legs, to give you a real-time mentoring in what it means to move your body with minimal effort, without compression. Perhaps I see that the carriage of your head is not optimal - so we'll work with that, since, believe it or not- such a thing can definitely be a cause for such things as sciatica. And, very often, I may do intensive and regular Feldenkrais foot and ankle work, since everything begins  there, in a very real sense. Nobody complains about this, because it feels so good! This "wandering instinct" has served me well in the past - great discoveries are made, unsuspected causes of pain are uncovered. This type of work is part of the magic of Feldenkrais - and you can't get it anyplace else, as far as I know. Having a general plan, as I do here, calms my mind and gives some structure to our work, but often the real results come from unexpected angles.  

And definitely, I'll be doing Feldenkrais work to help you learn to globally decompress all your joints, including especially your hip joints and lumbar spine. This perhaps is my central focus, since it is what most reliably gives total relief. 

If your pain continues in spite of all this, I'll ask that you read all my posts, since there might be one piece of information that can make a big difference.  

I'll ask you to take Vitamin B-12 sublingually, and a multi-B complex vitamin once or twice a day. That's because whenever nerves are involved, it is good, and usually helpful to be sure there are enough B vitamins, especially B-12. If nutrition seems to be an issue, I'll recommend you see a nutritionist. 

I'll explain - if the topic comes up and you are interested in my opinions -  my belief/opinion that "we die from the feet up" meaning that problems with  blood circulation, accumulation of heavy metals, etc is likely to show up first in the feet. So the feet and legs can be considered as an "early warning system" of the body. Don't ignore it (you can't ignore sciatica, anyway!) and make changes! The sciatic nerve - very long, heavily used and most subject to being compressed and compromised for other reasons (compared to other nerves in the body) can warn us to make necessary changes, to avoid trouble with the brain, say, many years later. That can mean many things,  but in my experience (I myself have had sciatica), it is primarily about the items in this long list.  All this is mostly about me, even though I do write it down as client recommendations, it is what I do personally. If you do any of these things, it is your choice, and I can take no responsibility for any possible adverse effects

So here are my common sense guidelines to taking care of the feet, legs  and nerves of the lower extremities, in order to prevent further trouble and possibly enhance the healing process for sciatica. It has taken me many years to learn, embody and practice all these thing, so don't think you need to try them all! It can't be done, not unless you take several years to do it:

a) Manage stress

b) Learning to breath more easily, not holding the belly and floor of the pelvis uptight at all since this will crimp blood vessels to the lower extremities as they pass through the diaphragm - which is over-tensed. That means learning to get comfortable letting the belly hang free during the day. This is a large topic, and soon I will have a post that goes into more detail on this subject. 

c) Learning to move into length, not compression, and getting smarter about how you move, and the body positions, chairs, etc and situations that you allow yourself to get into. That means continuing involvement with The Feldenkrais Method. There is a lifetime of pleasant learning,  personal growth and transformation there. It is wonderful to include it in your normal lifestyle, just like a yoga class every week. 

d) Modifying and improving  dietary and supplementation strategies. Eat more greens! Learn about green drinks! Buy the book Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko! Up your percentage of raw food. Eat more organics, buy your produce locally at a farmer's Market. Stop eating fast food, processed food, grains and simple carbos. This is not rocket science. 
  
e) Dr. Jonathan Wright, the well-known alternative medicine pioneer, has written that he routinely cures sciatica by IV or injections of vitamin B12 with Vitamin  B1. That should be a hint for us.  At least supplement with B vitamins and sublingual B12. B12 - the latest research shows we all need to supplement, even beef eaters! B-vitamins are water soluble, so take them twice a day. There are many ways that B12 may become a problem - more than any other vitamin it is subject to stress, pollution, poor diet, low stomach acid -  any of these can cause us to be depleted. Shortage of B12, all by itself, can be the 100% cause of sciatica. It makes sense to deal with this aspect. And, the latest research does show that daily ingestion of one sublingual B12 can do the job. Shots are not really necessary (although I myself give myself  shots) and the past belief, by MDs, that shots etc were not needed, was faulty. The  test they used was not accurate. For more on  this, visit treeoflife.nu, Dr. Gabriel Cousens's website. He is a raw foodist, and has had more clinical experience with vegans, raw foodists, and vegetarians than anybody else  on the planet. He is a voice of common sense and wisdom, backed up by many years experience and a stunningly diverse education (he has many degrees).
 
f) Do detox protocols, especially to remove heavy metals from the lower extremities, where they do seem to accumulate. When clients are doing chemotherapy, I can feel by touching their feet, the hot, itchy, uncomfortable feeling caused by the accumulation of heavy metals and poison-drug residues there. I told one client "I cannot work on your feet while you do chemo, unless you do foot baths three times a week. She did this, and I could then work with her feet without aching hands).
 
g) A foot bath twice a week is a good idea for you, too. The pores at the bottom of the feet are the largest in the body - a hint that large, heavy metals can best be eliminated there through the skin. Maybe that's why  the body allows gravity to send heavy metals down to the feet, instead of just going to the liver (probably both happen, or the liver may be overloaded or the colon congested and elimination is faulty). How to do a foot-bath?  Use a dishwashing plastic tub, big enough for both feet, fill it with hot water (as hot as you can stand) and then add a little soap (to break the surface tension) and some other items to bind to the heavy metals as you sweat them out - such as clay, epsom salts, sea salt, 3T of unscented regular Clorox Bleach, essential oils, Willard Water, etc. You can Google "foot baths" and get much good information. Be sure to leave you feet in the bath until the water turns slightly cool, because some believe that is when the greatest transfer of toxic waste from the feet (now warmer than the water) goes to the water

h) Again, do some kind of detox! Salt baths are a wonderful idea. Clay baths are wonderful. Buy and  read the book Live Longer Better, by Joseph Dispenza for the very best information on taking salt baths, baking soda baths, Clorox bleach baths (1 cup per bathtub of water - it is great, I have actually done this). This book is available at Amazon.com for very little money. Visit a spa where you can do mud baths, clay sun bathing. If you live in Southern California, be sure to visit Glen Ivy Spa, just south of the highway 10 in the 15. Wonderful detox! Even if you do everything else in I recommend, without some kind of detox protocol you may get poor results.

i) See a nutritionist or other experienced professional, who has had many years experience in your locality in detox protocols. It is extremely individual - what is most suitable for you - and it can be actually dangerous if not done sensibly. As well, different  localities have different kinds of pollution, hence it is best to see a local person, experienced in detox methods. This may be an acupuncturist, naturopath, herbalist, MD,  chiropractor, dentist, or a nutritionist.
 
j) Personally, I use salt baths, clay baths (up to 2-3 hours per bath),  a high-end zeolite spray twice a day, castor oil topically now and then, dry skin brushing, Dr. Schulze colon and liver cleansing protocols (I often do liver flushes as he recommends), and periodic juice fasting, using Fasting.com protocols. I have paid Dennis, the director,  many times to guide me through 30-40 and even once an 87 day juice/broth liquid fast. It is safe, the appetite goes away after a few days, and one loses maybe 1/3 pound a day - but energy is good, and I can always keep working. Supervision is necessary for any kind of fasting - there are many hidden pitfalls and dangers if you do it alone, without sufficient knowledge. There is a lot to learn and know about fasting, of any kind.  Often my clients don't know I am fasting until day 30 or so, when they may say - "Steve - are you fasting again? You look so skinny.") 

k) Another detox strategy I use, very powerful, is a 100% raw food diet - with lots of greens and green drinks - combined with aerobic exercise and Bikram Yoga (lots of sweating).  I once went 2 years 100% raw, and now I eat 80% to 90% raw, and often go for weeks mostly raw. Nearly always breakfast and lunch is all raw, but supper may be cooked. Any trouble or pain in my body - I do more raw food, it goes away. What could be more simple? But not easy! And, you have to know how to do it. Read books, take classes. You absolutely must not do too many fruits and protein-anemic salads as most people do when they go vegan and "raw". That will only make you sick. You need green drinks, super-foods in abundance, protein smoothies, you need to soak your nuts and seeds, and sea vegetables. There is lots to learn! I do workshops on raw food. I have a website, RawFoodandMore.Com and I have a book on raw food that you may purchase  (not yet available online - but soon). Ask me about the book.  Perhaps I am too preoccupied with raw food and detox, but I live in LA smog, and that does accumulate in the lungs and colon, don't ask me how I know this, you don't want to hear me tell you! so periodic clean up periods are a must, for me. Also while I was in the US Army, processing to got to Vietnam, I was forcefully (we had little choice but to obey direct orders) given over 30 injections, all of them loaded with mercury (we now know that many years after the fact). My arms still ache!! After nearly 40 years. Were 30 injections necessary? For what? Or was it that the drug companies lobbied the US Government to give that many shots, more money for them, you know? (pardon my rant) 

l) Use a shower filter to minimize your exposure to chlorine. Personally, I no longer take showers since they have recently increased (by 3x, I am told) the fluoride in the LA water supply. I don't drink LA water,  either. I buy my water from stores specializing in water using reverse osmosis, and then I use a gravity drop Nikken  filter as my second line of defense. THEN I use the water. Really, I am pretty extreme, so don't try to imitate me. I clean my body using dry skin brushing, sponge baths using filtered water, sweating. I use PCV plastic pipe to conduit the water from my shower filter into the bathtub (so as not to lose heat) when I want to take a bath. I am currently experimenting as to what I need to add to the bath water to clean up the fluoride. Certain kinds of high-end clays seem promising. 
 
m) Last, but not least - see good dentist (I prefer holistically oriented dentists experienced in removing mercury fillings), get a Panorex X-ray to be sure you don't have "cavitations" (bone infections  of the jaw) or teeth or root canals that have "gone bad". If an infected tooth or root canal is along the same energy/acupuncture meridian as your sciatic nerve, all your pain may be coming from your tooth!  I don't believe in root canals, and had all of mine pulled out. The ancient, proven method? Pull the tooth. I felt SO much better. A root canal is a dead bone rotting  in your jaw - the blunt truth. I don't believe ancient cultures ever did such a thing as root canals - and that's not because they did not have the technology or ability to do it. They were smarter than us - I contend - if for no other reason than that they did  not attempt to destroy the planet, as we seem to be doing. I have lots of other reasons to believe that, as well, too much to discuss here. Ask me sometime. All this is no joke, and it is something to definitely rule out, or deal with, if nothing else works. I myself have experienced this - and I can't tell you how relieved I was, instantly, when the dentist finally extracted the root canal that was giving  me all that trouble! Of course, I now have a little trouble chewing, but sometimes we have to choose which kind of misery we want to endure. And of course, get all your mercury fillings removed - mercury is a very potent nerve toxin - it literally eats away nerve endings. It has been estimated to be 100 times or more, more poisonous than lead, for example. 

As well, I'll ask  you to stop eating gluten for at least two weeks - to see what happens. Please read my post titled Gluten - The Two Week Challenge for a comprehensive explanation of why this may help you - a lot!

Since sciatica can be such a strong motivator - for people to change their ways and launch into an adventuresome exploration of new things - I may recommend a book (if I am impressed by their enthusiasm), or loan a book, on Feldenkrais, that has ATM movements you can do at home. I might recommend you acquire ATM tapes or listen to online sources such as The Open ATM Project

This is pretty much what you'll get - but not all of it! Only some of it! Usually only a small percentage of it! -  if you come to see me for sciatica. There are a lot of things to consider, and never do we do all of these things. Usually, a client gets relief with just a selected few  of these items. I let my common sense and experience guide me as to what is most important in each particular case.  

Only if results are poor or too slow, will I start to talk about doing more, with more intensity. I do get good results, and have many success stories, more than I can remember. I want results, I want them quick, and I want them to be permanent, just like you do. In the past, when I worked only with Feldenkrais ideas, my results were good, but too slow. So now I still use Feldenkrais, which is something you can't get anywhere else, but I combine it with these other simple, safe, harmless recommendations and easy protocols and I get much quicker results. However, as you might expect, to cover all these bases, so that you can fully integrate them, may take more than just 5 or 6 sessions. At times, up to 3 or 4 months of work is needed to fully resolve sciatica.  




4 comments:

Girish Panchal said...

Very nice information.
Thanks.

Dr. Girish Panchal
http://smitaarogyakendra.com/sciatica-treatment-in-mumbai.html

Girish Panchal said...

Very nice information.
Thanks.

Dr. Girish Panchal
http://smitaarogyakendra.com/sciatica-treatment-in-mumbai.html

Kristen Goodrich said...

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