I don’t know how non-telecommuting workers cope with a bout of acute sciatica if they can’t take time off. There is no way I could’ve functioned at my desk.

I tried to do so one morning and had to return home to recline with my laptop for five more weeks, fantasizing about slitting my backside open with an Exacto blade, pulling out the nerve, and drowning it in a bin of icewater.

Perhaps they’re doped to the gills? All my doctor offered me was Aleve, which was a joke.

Acupuncture helped, briefly

Finally I went to Needleman the acupuncturist. I spent an hour on my side with needles from the nape of my neck to my ankle, like a brontosaurus. By the time I left the pain was gone, but it crept back during my 30-minute drive home. So if you do have a medical acupuncturist in your town who can treat you for sciatica, have someone chauffeur you so that you can recline in the back seat on the way home.

Something about fascia at the osteopath’s

At Needleman’s recommendation I visited a new osteopath. The pain had already started to taper off the day of my appointment. By the time I got in my car after the session, which didn’t involve as much violent cracking as I like but a lot of weird and undignified stretching, the pain was gone for good. This visit was the first time anyone had mentioned the fascia, which is webbing that connects throughout the whole body and when … I dunno, look it up yerself.

A connection to zinc?

At the time the sciatica started, after a hamstring stretch went horribly wrong, I was convinced it was brought on by a surfeit of vitamin A, plus the overzealous stretch. For about a year I could count on a twinge of sciatic pain whenever I ate foods high in copper or vitamin A, such as liver and pate. Now I think it wasn’t so much that I had too much of those nutrients, but that I had too little zinc, and in large enough amounts the two can compete with zinc to lower the zinc even more.

Triangle pose a major help

Occasionally if the twinge got strong enough I’d do a yoga triangle pose and that was enough to stop it. (In this video the instructor is saying “lift your THIGHS,” not “lift your tights,” in case you were confused by her accent.)

When this content was published

The copy on this post was first published on July 20, 2011.

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