How to Treat a Pinched Sciatic Nerve

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The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, running from the base of the spinal cord to the feet. Sometimes a vertebral disk may bulge out of place and pinch the sciatic nerve. This can cause mild or severe throbbing of the back and leg.

Things You'll Need

  • Firm Mattresses
  • Aspirins
  • Ibuprofen
  • Pillows
  • Heating pads
  • Ice packs
  • Visit your family doctor or orthopedic surgeon.

  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve discomfort. Taking two aspirin every day, even when you aren't suffering with sciatic pain, can help prevent pain from recurring.

  • Place at least one pillow under your knees when you lie down. This helps relieve pressure that the disk is putting on your sciatic nerve.

  • Rest on a firm mattress or on the floor when sciatic pain is severe. Stay in bed, getting up only when absolutely necessary, for 3 days.

  • Ask for help to get out of bed or into the bath or shower so you don't strain your back while getting up and down.

  • Apply hot or cold packs to your back and upper legs. Sometimes ice will work better than heat; at other times, a heating pad will do a better job of relieving pain. Try both to see which one is more effective for you.

  • Don't lift anything.

  • Don't bend or sit in soft chairs.

  • Ask your doctor for prescription pain relievers if severe sciatic pain continues.

  • Eat a diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables to prevent constipation. Straining to defecate irritates the sciatic nerve.

Tips & Warnings

  • If sciatic pain is severe and unrelenting or if you begin having difficulty walking, you may have to consider disk surgery or having a special enzyme injected into the disk to shrink it.
  • Bed rest has not been proven to be beneficial in treating a pinched sciatic nerve, but it has been the standard treatment since the 1930s.
  • Sciatica tends to recur, especially if the bulging disk is not surgically repaired.
  • Pinched nerve should feel better in a few days but can take up to several weeks.
  • Use a weight belt when lifting anything heavy to reduce possibility of re-injury.
  • Never try to "walk off" a pinched nerve.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, contact a physician or other health care professional before engaging in any activity related to health and diet. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.
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