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Can your diet affect your sciatica?

Can Diet Affect Your Sciatica

If you have experienced sciatica symptoms, you will be all too aware of how painful it can be. You may be looking around for ideas on how to manage it, in the hope of avoiding future flare-ups. An important part of treatment which is often overlooked is what you eat. So, can your diet affect your sciatica? What you consume may have an effect on your symptoms, and a few small changes could bring big benefits.

A healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is something we should all be aiming for. But what is good for sciatica in particular? When sciatica strikes there will be higher than normal levels of inflammation around the sciatic nerve so it makes sense to adjust your diet accordingly to reduce the levels of excessive inflammation in your body. Saturated fats are known to increase inflammation, so avoid fried food, high-fat dairy products, fatty red meats and any processed foods.

This is not to say that all fats are bad – in fact, you need healthy fats in your diet. It’s good news if you enjoy seafood, as trout, salmon and mackerel are all sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which will help your body in the healing process by promoting healthy inflammation. If fish isn’t for you, you can also get these fats from sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds.

B vitamins are important for nerve health, and if your diet is deficient in them you may struggle to heal nerve damage, so if someone experiences sciatica it makes sense to increase the amount in your diet. You can get your B vitamins from a wide range of food including salmon, eggs and mushrooms. Magnesium is vital for good muscle function. Many people that experience cramp are often deficient in magnesium. Some people that experience sciatica complain of muscle spasms and cramps alongside the pain. This is usually due to the oversensitive sciatic nerve. Eating foods rich in magnesium can help to ensure you are not deficient in magnesium and may help in controlling muscle spasms and can improve the symptoms of sciatica. Dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.  You will pleased to know good quality  dark chocolate is rich in magnesium. A diet that is low in potassium is not favourable for sciatic symptoms, so eat dark leafy greens such as spinach, or try apricots and bananas.

Vitamin supplements can help if you are very low on one of the vitamins or minerals mentioned above. Before taking supplements you should do your research and take advice if you feel you need it. The priority should be making some of these small changes to your diet that will bring long lasting benefits, not just for your sciatic pain, but in all aspects of your life.

39 Comments

  1. Mo Cox on July 26, 2020 at 10:12 am

    I have read all the questions and answers and have found them helpful. During my chemotherapy sessions, the last of which I had on 23rd July, I have had to take care that I continued with my healthy eating regime. I am not a fanatic but do prefer to eat healthily with occasional treats such as chocolate raisins and chocolate brazils (both in covered in milk chocolate). My sciatica kicked in six weeks ago but I have noticed that eating bananas, salmon, apricots and sardines in oil, nuts and seeds more frequently than before and drinking turmeric tea has eased the symptoms but I still have difficulty walking very far. Lack of stamina after being isolated at home since my operation at the start of March and subsequent cancer treatment hasn’t helped as I have had to adapt to a new restrictive regime. However, I am going to put in more effort with the exercises suggested. One of the side effects of chemotherapy for me has been screaming joint pain which lasts for about five days but the medication provided by the consultant does help. The combination of the joint pains and sciatica pain is pretty unpleasant I feel for everyone who has shared their experiences with sciatica and hope you all find your solution for dealing with the pain. This is not a feel sorry for me comment, I just wanted everyone to know that I have found your comments helpful and encouraging.

    • SPRC on July 26, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience Mo. We’re sure others will find it useful.

  2. Richard John Carpenter on July 23, 2020 at 9:22 am

    I was on a flight home from Panama around 4 weeks ago now, and a few days after I arrived I started to experience pains in my right upper leg. I assumed at the time it was some sort of muscular issue and waited for it to go away, but now 3 weeks later it still remains. Now however I a also getting short sharp shooting pains that feel like they are coming from deep within my right bum cheek. I have noticed also that the leg pain is most aggravated when I try to walk when bent over (for example walking under some low branches of a tree). What I have also noticed, is that following exercise (I walk and bike a reasonable amount), it seems to be ok for a while but then comes back even worse. Do you think this may be a sciatica? I have already arranged a doctors appointment but cannot be seen for another 2 weeks.

    • SPRC on July 23, 2020 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Richard,
      Certainly sounds like sciatica symptoms. You’re doing the right thing by going to your Doctor and getting them to check it out. Best wishes.

  3. bill kay on May 4, 2020 at 12:26 am

    my pain is on the outside of my left calf.
    Sometimes I feel it in my buttocks.
    I found that ibuprofen helps, but, I am cautioned not take it because I am on Pradaxa.
    I would like to know if my symptoms sound like sciatica, and,
    what your suggestions to relieve the pain

    • SPRC on May 4, 2020 at 10:16 am

      Hello Bill,
      What you describe sounds like sciatica symptoms, but we would urge you to get formal advice from a health care professional. If you cannot visit one try a telephone appointment. In terms of things you can try our website has many blogs with suggestions of things that may help you. Have a read through and see what might work best for you. Best regards.

  4. eddy on May 3, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Hi All,

    Felt I should share my experience in case there are similarities. Im up to my third bout of debilitating sciatic pain. First time lasted for many months, tried all, osteo, physio, needling, acupuncture. All the heavy drugs from the Doctors barley took the edge off. Was in bed most of the time. Second bout I couldn’t lay down, had to kneel over the lounge for 1-2 hours at a time to sleep. Same problem with Pharma drugs, made me sick and barley took the edge off and still couldn’t lay down. Working through this third eposide now but without any pharma drugs. With the second and especially the third episodes besides the normal stresses of work, family and COVID there was a clear link with my gut becoming overwhelmed with too many of the wrong foods which in turn caused massive inflammation. Hence this time I did not take and drugs as whilst it may have helped the pain it also would have made my gut worse causing more pain and prolonged recovery. My lower back and now sciatic being a week point the inflammation has again caused me to be bed ridden – luckily, the time when I couldn’t lay was awful. I am managing it this time with diet only and whilst slow, seems to be working better overall. The product that I turned to on the second bout which worked incredibly quickly ie, days which hasn’t worked as well this time was CBD oil. It was an absolute miracle. Unfortunately it hasn’t been as effective this time but has helped some what.
    Apparently various strains work on some conditions better than others. When I originally told my Doctor about it he advised to keep going with it as to get CBD through the medical system was quite difficult.

    So after lots of treatments and drugs the only thing that worked for “me” was an alternative therapist and CBD oil, with the support of my GP.

    To all those in pain, I hope you find your solution.
    Best Regards

    • SPRC on May 4, 2020 at 10:13 am

      Thanks for sharing Eddy,
      Making it clear that your approach is unique to you is the key point. It just illustrates that doing your research and trying safe practices will eventually start to yield results. Stay safe.

  5. Trish Blassingame on May 1, 2020 at 6:57 am

    I’m here to tell you that adding Magnesium to my daily supplements has helped me. I haven’t had a flare-up in 3 years and my last bone density scan shows no decline from 2 years ago.

    Thanks for all your articles on Sciatica! I hope to never have a never flare-up.

    • SPRC on May 1, 2020 at 10:45 am

      You’re welcome Trish. And thank you for your contribution and sharing your experience.

  6. Lyndsay on April 30, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Husband has severe pain both sides of body, got meds from doctors but still cannot sleep due to pain. Unable to see a doctor nor physiotherapist due to Covid 19. Wanting to do some exercises but too painful.

    • SPRC on April 30, 2020 at 2:25 pm

      Hi Lyndsay,
      We appreciate that the Covid 19 situation makes things difficult, but if your husband has pain in both legs that are like sciatica symptoms then he needs to advice from a healthcare professional. Try a phone appointment with your Doctor. Also some physios are doing phone consultations. Type ‘phone appointment with physiotherapist’ in Google and see if there are any that are willing to assist. We hope your husbands pain starts to subside soon. Best wishes.

  7. Kusum on April 24, 2020 at 5:46 am

    HELLO..I have sacitica pain. In the morning I have severe PAIN in my right leg..my right hip and lower part of knee .pindli and foot

    • SPRC on April 24, 2020 at 8:28 am

      Sorry to hear that Kusum. Maybe some of the tips in the following blog might help you to get going in the morning. https://www.sciatic-relief.com/getting-out-of-bed-with-sciatica/
      Best wishes

    • Rowena Janias on May 9, 2020 at 3:28 pm

      Feeling same here right butt, side thigh, side legs down to my ankle… it’s really painful.. I do not take pain relief because it may damage my internal organs like kidney etc.. I want a long time cure not short term… I will try the high potential therapy unit machine…

  8. Rita T. on April 21, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    My pain only comes on at night.
    which effects my left leg.
    Is walking especially up hill
    put a strain on it?
    I never seem to have pain during the day.

    • SPRC on April 21, 2020 at 5:37 pm

      Hi Rita, it’s good you’re staying active with your walking. Physical activity is one on the best things to help recover from sciatica. We’ve written about this here. https://www.sciatic-relief.com/sciatica-walk-vs-rest/. Pain during the evening is common as the weight of the day bears down on us. Stay active but review how much you are doing. Little and often can work well and reduce strain on the body. Take care.

  9. dd on April 18, 2020 at 12:33 am

    I would like to ride a bike can you suggest a good bike seat

    • SPRC on April 18, 2020 at 11:33 am

      Unfortunately we’re not experts in cycling so probably can’t help there:-) Probably the softer the seat the better. What would help is limiting the periods of time to cycling so that you are not sitting for too long and building up slowly as you recover and get stronger. Stay safe and good luck with your cycling.

  10. Deb Armstrong on April 4, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    I have developed a small red rash on the sciatic buttock . What could this be ?

    • SPRC on April 4, 2020 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Deb,
      The sciatic nerve runs through the buttock and is deep within the buttock not near the surface. It is unlikely that the rash is anything to do with sciatica, but if you’re concerned about it your Doctor will be able to advise. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

      • Erica on May 1, 2020 at 1:18 am

        Hello, my pain comes in the evening and radiates from my buttock and travels down towards the top of my ankle. However, my skin also feels sore along this path. Is this a common symptom as well? Thank you in advance.

        • SPRC on May 1, 2020 at 10:44 am

          Hi Erica,
          The nerve that supply’s the muscles also supply’s the skin so it is fairly common to have skin sensitive to touch that feels sore along the nerve path. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  11. Mary Jo Pettengill on March 12, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    Is low fat yogurt okay with inflammation? thanks..

    • SPRC on March 12, 2020 at 11:19 pm

      When ever anything is low fat they often are high in sugar. Check to see how much sugar is in the product. Too much sugar is not good for you and will not help to reduce inflammation.

      • Palesa on April 19, 2020 at 9:36 am

        I am having a localized lower left back pain first thing in the morning.It later disappears after an hour or two after getting out of bed.If I manage to sleep on my back thru out the nite I wake up with no pain.If I just sleep on the left side I definately wake up with pain on the same position.Tried pain killers no luck.Please help.

        • SPRC on April 19, 2020 at 10:53 am

          First thing to do is to seek advice from your Doctor or a physiotherapist who can take a full history and examine you. Even if they cannot examine you a phone consultation with a full history will be a great help. You don’t mention any sciatica symptoms and the pain subsides through out the day so perhaps a few gentle stretches may help. This article shows a gentle stretch for the lower back that might help.https://www.sciatic-relief.com/the-easiest-stretch-for-sciatica/.

  12. Brenda on March 10, 2020 at 3:45 am

    This information was very helpful. Thanks

    • SPRC on March 10, 2020 at 3:18 pm

      You’re welcome Brenda:-)

  13. ReneeJuarez on March 10, 2020 at 1:17 am

    I am eating spinach, with mushrooms and onions, would that help me?

    • SPRC on March 10, 2020 at 3:28 pm

      Certainly should not do you any harm. All healthy foods that can do you good. So if it is not hurting assume that it is helping:-) Get well soon.

    • Jay on March 23, 2020 at 9:26 pm

      Would smoking weed or doing psychedelics effect me bad if I have scatica?

      • SPRC on March 24, 2020 at 9:37 am

        It may do. Best option is not to try. Stay safe jay.

      • Dee McCoy on March 25, 2020 at 2:33 am

        Ok I eat bananas atleast daily or almost daily and eat alot of chicken and drink water or sugar free tea.
        Please tell me what I can do to help with the pain to where I can barely walk or sit.
        Thank you
        Dee McCoy.

        • SPRC on March 25, 2020 at 7:44 pm

          Sounds like you eat pretty healthily Dee. In terms of what to do help with your sciatica there are many things you could try. Too many to cover in a short comment here. Best thing to do would read through our blogs. There are many ideas for you to consider there. Take care.

        • Mark Kennedy on April 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm

          Hi Just had operation on my L4L5 I had rods and screws. Things were ok a couple weeks ago but now pain in my buttocks and down my right leg when l walk or sit

          • SPRC on April 30, 2020 at 1:43 pm

            Hello Mark,
            You’re very early days post operation and should still be under the care of your surgeon. You need to let them know these symptoms have are here so they can advise you properly.
            Best wishes

    • James Popovich on April 20, 2020 at 2:55 am

      My sciatic nerve damage hit the other day to where I thought someone lit my knee on fire and 10 thousand volts of electricity was hitting over and over, I was screaming at the top of my lungs frozen and couldn’t move. I been eating processed foods for years every day, if I eat what you suggested will my sciatic nerve damage get better?? I never knew a human body can feel pain like this!!!!!!!!!

      • SPRC on April 20, 2020 at 8:47 am

        Hi James, eating healthily is going to be good for you in every way. If you have sciatica eating healthily alone won’t make it go away, it is part of a number of things you need to do. Get advice from a healthcare professional who will advise you on exercises that help and things you can do to help you recover. Get well soon.

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