What to Do for Sciatica Pain?


Sciatic pain can run from the top of the affected leg’s buttock down to the heel and even through the toes. There are numerous causes for sciatic pain, from a gentle strain or pressure on the sciatic nerve to the more serious degenerative disc pressure. For temporary sciatica pain relief, you have a few options.


One at-home remedy for dealing with sciatica pain is stretching. There are a number of techniques you can use, from yoga stretches to runner’s stretches. The key is isolating the Piriformis muscle, which often pulls tight on the sciatic nerve, causing pain. One basic stretch starts by sitting criss-cross on the floor. Take your non-affected leg and straighten it out as far behind you as possible, leaving the "sciatica leg" folded in front of you. Lean your body over the folded leg and stretch your arms out as far in front of you as possible. Breathe deeply and remain in this position for at least a minute.

Ice and Heat

Ice and heat treatments can also relieve sciatica pain by either numbing it or loosening the surrounding muscle area. The difficulty is that since the sciatic nerve is relatively deep behind the buttock and near the lower back, it may require some extra time or extensive treatment to reach the affected area. For ice, get a palm-sized plastic bag with ice and a little water. Have someone rub the affected area in small circles for no more than six minutes at a time. After icing, do gentle stretching for added relief. With heat, use a very warm hot pack or heating cream. This should not be placed for more than 15 minutes at a time. You can alternate ice and heat treatments three times a day for each. If pain persists for more than seven days, consult a physician.


Over-the-counter medications can also help relieve sciatic pain. The anti-inflammatory function of them can reduce muscle tension around the sciatic nerve, also making it easier to stretch. Ibuprofen and naproxen are preferred medications because they are non-steroidal, avoiding side effects such as ulcers. If the pain still doesn’t go away, a doctor may recommend cortisone injections to the Piriformis muscle near the nerve. Cortisone in long-term use can dissolve nearby scar tissue which could also cause sciatic pain.

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