Ten Tips to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain

2010-03-02 10:13

The sciatic nerve goes across the buttock and runs down the leg clear to the toes. People complain of a pain that radiates from the hip down the thigh clear to the toes and is a pain that is quite difficult to ignore. The inflammation if the sciatic nerve can have many causes including a slipped disc, pinched nerves, and for many improper posture. The sciatica usually heals on its own within a few days or even a few weeks. There quite a few things that can help you feel better when your sciatic nerve is acting up.

Heat and ice
An ice pack may reduce inflammation that is associated with sciatic nerve pain. Heat helps to increase the blood flow to this area. Alternating both cold and heat can give positive results in reducing pain and inflammation.

Over the Counter Medications
Over the counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation, reduce pain and act as temporary pain relief.

Prescription Medications
If the pain gets too intense, some people may require prescribed medications such as muscle relaxants and in some cases, anti-depressants. These medications help by not only blocking the messages of pain the brain receives, it also helps the production of endorphins which is a natural painkiller.

A massage not only helps relax the muscles in the back it can and loosen some of the muscles that are affected by the sciatic nerve. It helps circulation in the back, and if you suffer from chronic sciatic discomfort, massage is a good prevention.


Stretching can offer good support for the back. Certain stretches for the sciatica can help release the tightness and relax the muscles. In addition, stretching is good prevention.

Topical Analgesic
Some people find relief in topical pain relievers. Many of the analgesics have menthol and which can help aid in blocking pain receptors and relax the tissues and muscles.

Sitting in a hot Jacuzzi or whirlpool may enhance circulation and relax muscle tissue which in turn could help inflammation. Heat can aid with muscle spasm and inflammation and movements of the water can act as a gentle massage relaxing the back.

Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can include a variety of modalities that include massage, electrotherapies, and exercises. These therapies are intended to help reduce pain, inflammation and muscle spasms. Physical therapy also consists of education and training to learn about correct movements and postures that can best help you and your sciatic nerve.

Support and Posture
Sitting on hard or uneven surfaces can aggravate the sciatic nerve therefore, making sure there is good support and posture can help. If you sit at a desk, having a chair that tilts a bit and shifts your weight can reduce stress on the lower back creating less pressure and pain. A firm yet cushioning mattress can help. Sleeping with side bent knees can also help align posture while you are sleeping.

Acupuncture is the use of small needles placed in specific areas to help relieve pain and inflammation. Acupuncture help can reduce muscles spasm and inflammation associated with the sciatic nerve by improving blood flow to the lower back and increasing circulation. It helps relax muscles and may increase flexibility.

Also see: Mustard For Sciatica Pain, Myth or Fact?

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Massage and stretching are the best tips in my opinion for relieving Nerve pain. Acupuncture, never done, so I don't know.
Most primary care physicians cannot diagnose the sciatic nerve pain in the first place. Physical therapists are also flip side of coin. Even though medication and hot water bag worked for me, I don't think one should do too much of therapies if it does not go away. This is my opinion as a patient, not as a med professional.
I agree with the above. I have had sciatica since April 2012 with severe sciatica since Sept. 2012. I went to physio for 4 months, paid hundreds of dollars and no relief. Yes it would help for a few hours after physio or for that day but no long term relief. I do my stretches twice a day, I have tried every over the counter medication know to man including rubs and again only temporary relief and on many occasions no relief. The sports meds doctor took an MRI and then told me to find a way to manage the pain...um that's her job to help me. Notheless I left her office in tears. It has gotten worse in the past 2 weeks to the point where I won't bother leaving my apt. as walking is too painful. I am seeing a chiropractor recommended by a co-worker tomorrow to see if that helps. I am at the end of my rope and pain threshold. Thank god it doesn't hurt when I sit or I would be out of a job!
Hello, those of you still suffering and reading this blog, please see my above comment about how to release the piriformis on your own, another release that can be helpful is the psoas release. This is a muscle that is 2 inches down and 2 inches over from your belly button. Unfortunately, I am not aware of a way to release this muscle on your own. Stretching the low back, and glutes will help. Find a good massage therapist!!!! I can not stress this enough! I am currently working with a client with this, and she states that what I am doing is the only thing that has given her relief. As I learn more I will post tips and tricks on my blog and Facebook page. If you are interested, you can find me on Facebook at kneaded thoughts . I hope you all find the relief you need! Feel free to post any questions you have there, and I will try to help any way I can!!
I am41 yrs old have had 3 back surgeries in the last couple of yrs after trying not to have surgery trying the lse injections chiropractor , pt, and finally after 7 yrs of that had my first surgery did not work had a fusion surgery the dr got on the nerve so the 3 surgery dr had to remove the hardware and I have nerve damage in my leg which is very painful on several medications which most of the time does not cut the pain thinking about trying acupuncture?any advice?
It's unfortunate you had the surgery to begin with, without knowing where your pain is and how long you've been dealing with this, it is hard to tell you what will work, or what to do. It's worth giving acupuncture a shot, but it may not work. I say this because it takes a long time for nerves to heal if they have had damage. Try massage also. Although massage may not heal the nerve either, if the muscles are tight, they can be pushing on the nerve, and causing it to remain in a state of stress. If its bad, it may delay the healing of the nerve. Anything you do will take time, but try things at least once then go with what gives you the most immediate relief. Listen to your body, but give it time to heal too.
All with sciatica please try ceragem beds they are fantastic don't waste your money on any chiro practice you need 3 to 4 sessions downfall can't use in pregnancy
What is ceragem beds?
My third back surgey didnt work,screws were takrn out i have nerve damage. Saciat nervr hurts nerd relief help.
My husband went and paid way to much money for acupuncture, and the only thg it did was help him oh id say for about 3hours. He came home all happy saying im healed and really believed it. But what wld u kno no more then 3 hours later he was in excruciating pain could'nt walk again, and all he cld do is lay on his stomach. We are now going thru the same thing and it is so bad he cant walk and the pain im watching him endure is unbelievable. He almost always pees himself either cuz the pain so bad to use a urinal being u have to get into a certain position. Then if he tries to use the walker to get to restroom he cant get thr fast enough and pees himself. It kills my heart to watch him in so much pain and cry cuz he cant bare it. He wont go back and do acupuncture nor will he go back to hospital cuz of course all they did was give him some tramadol. Which DOES NOT HELP HIM AT ALL. NEWAYS sorry for the rambling but to answer ur question or for neone thking of acupuncture it only works for a couple of hours. But if ur ok with spending $200 for a session of it to only be relieved for 3 hours then go ahead.
I have a different experience with acupuncture: it has been the only thing that works for my sciatica. I have done massage, pt, muscle relaxants, but none has worked. I did leave my first acupuncture treatment walking instead of barely walking and pale from the pain. That was about 5 yrs ago. I use cold when I start to get the twitch on my back and that usually helps. I also go to acupuncture every so often, especially when my back is acting up. Definitely worth the try; it can help. I prefer that to taking those awful muscle relaxants that make you fuzzy.
Hi have recently been told I've a trapped nerve due to disc problem just had my first treatment of acupuncture . Omg so painful back tmw for second treatment .. Pain is so wierd in bum and hurts to sit .. Hope this goes away soon Lorraine
I went to massage therapist on Tuesday, told her I was having sciatic nerve issues. Mostly at nite when I laid on my back. She did a treatment for sciatica pain, I went for a walk last night barely made it home. It is worse than before. It that normal?
After massage you can feel worse for a couple days
I was worse after a massage. Sorry I cannot recommend them. I have been suffering for 4yrs. Had an injection which did help. However we have to change our lifestyles....what we once did we can no longer do. I know it's hard when you get to feeling better but, I myself am willing to give up the things that cause it to flare up. Going back tomorrow after almost 3yrs and hoping to get it healed once again.
Hi Angie, Sorry for your pain. I have had sciatica for 15 years, and can advise that to a certain extent you will have to live with the condition. I haven`t heard of sciatica "clearing up" at any time. It is important to understand the injury, and how it came about. I, and many others damaged the nerve at a certain joint in my lower back from LIFTING. I put this in capitals because it tells us that the pinching was on the INSIDE of the spine, and that bending the back the other way will relieve pressure on the area. Secondly, understanding which muscle groups hold everything properly in place helps us to know which muscles need to be strengthened, to aid in supporting the area, and to avert further injury to the inflamed nerve. You will have to learn to tense these muscles ANY time you duplicate the movement/s that initially caused the injury. All the time. You need to learn gentle stretches that ease the muscles that are around the inflamed area, to reduce pressure on it. There is no quick fix, I don`t think, as the injury becomes a weakness, and repeat injury becomes more likely. You have to be aware of this scenario from now on. Good luck. There are a lot of ways to control this problem, but you have to be serious about it, or it will remain "in charge" of your life. Cheers, R.
what exactly are you doing and what is the best way to massage the mid/lower back area if the pain starts there and goes down to the hip and to the front of the abdomen? tried hot/cold treatments, medications, stretches, side sleep knees up position, pillow between legs, legs elevated up during sleep, massage......nothing works and pain seems to be getting progressively worse....please help
I had a surgery done that opened the way for the sciatic nerve to go through. right now I'm having pain my toes they feel like they're in shrink wrap my big toe the only one thats not in a lot of pain is my baby toe the rest of them are really really tight feels like I've got electric circuit going through 7/24. what can I do to help relieve the toes. my back doesn't hurt no more. my back,hip and thigh doesn't hurt. my right leg has electricity goes halfway up my calf but is there anything I can do to help so my toes. feel like I'm walking on sharp rocks and I rocks between my toes . I rub my rt foot 8 to 10 times a day. so thank you very much for any help you could help me. Thank you for your time. Debbie Peters.
Thank you for the advice. It sounded like the person was talking about me.
Hi KP, I am in the same boat as you. I have had Sciatica for 3 months and have tried lots of medication prescribed by doctors and nothing seems to work. I am doing hydrotherapy at present and acupuncture via a chiropractor for a week, so far the pain is exactly the same, no change. It is very depressing as I cannot walk for more than 10 minutes and I have to sit down due to the shooting pain going down my right leg. I never knew this could be so painful. If anyone has any suggestions on how to treat this, I would love to hear from you. Stretches seem to help but are only a temporary solution and like KP, I am so grateful that I have a sitting down job. I can barely walk out at lunch to buy my lunch as the pain becomes more intense and more excruciating when I walk. Surely there must be a cure or operation of some sort to rid of this nasty problem... It is indeed depressing. I have been advised to wear runners which I am doing but that hasn't really helped the pain go away. The pain is still with me every single day.
IMS needle therapy saved me. Google it and find someone that does it. It helped me be pain free in 5 sessions!! Through my physiotherapist who is a certified ims practitioner.
Hi Donna, have your primary care doctor give you a referral to a "pain clinic." They can do back injections that do help! The injections are painful, but they last for months. They can also prescribe you some stronger pain medications that can help.Lots of times, the pain stems from something else like a disc problem or arthritis in your back that can press on the nerves, etc. Best wishes!
I've had sciatica for a year now. What works for me is to wear the "Be Active" brace. A co-worker of mine was having a flare up and put on my brace, she was surprised to stand up and have no pain. You have to wear it for 2 hours straight before you decide to take off. Cold and heat alternated has also worked with mild ones. I am taking glucosamine and chondroitin pills. For the first week I took aleve also. Then slowly just the glucosamine and chondroitin pills.
Only thing I find that really helps is heat source, and lots of stretching. You can buy a heat pack and leave it on affected area. can also try tiger balm.
Try acupuncture ....the pain was 60% less in first week an di was able to sleep. This is my third week and its improving everyday. Doctor said you will see much relief after 3rd week. the progress is slow and i will continue six more weeks for permanent sort of results. Physio actually made it worse.
Acupuncture!! I was very skepticle and nervous. I just completed my fourth treatment after suffering for 8 months and the pain has been reduced by at least 50%. I was taking pain medication and over the counter meds two to three times a day and have cut back to only once a day before work. I could hadly walk Last Wednesday, which promted me to make my first appt. I look forward to the day when I am pain free. I am still stuggling with sitting down at work but the sharp stabbing pain is much less and the pain in my left hip and calf is much less.
I'm going on a year with this pain & no insurance so surgery is out of the question. I have been seeing a family friend who is a chiropractor and he helped. I recently pulled the opposite side of my back and ever since the sciatica has been worse. I'm so stiff when I wake up and it hurts to walk. You're so lucky it doesn't hurt to sit. I'm in college, so I sit all the time for hours. And I can't even eat at the table with my family I have to lay on my stomach on the kitchen floor. It's insane.
I have heard about the laser spine Institute, that it's a great place and they can do a procedure that only takes an hour and gives people their pain free lifestyle again you may want to look into it? I too have sciatica problems and am looking into it as well
I merely slipped and regained my balance that resulted in the compression of my sciatic nerve. I initially just limped, then lost the use of my right leg, it was like paralysed when i stood up. I couldnt flex my leg let alone pick it up. It felt numb and i couldnt even move my toes. No pain medication helps unless they keep you drugged in hospital. I was able to lift my leg after going for 3 accupuncture sessions, after 3 days. Then it was excruciating pain at the back of my thigh, my knee and the sciatic nerve itself. initially i did not feel pain in my lower back. I walk as a child does up and down stairs because i cannot put pressure on my right leg. Physiotherapy never helped, even the stretches dont do much but i do them anyway. Things that aggravate the pain are walking up and down stairs, driving, constant standing and sitting or lying down.
Hi this is a new problem for me, massage seems to help but it's only temporary, so iv'e been using my IF 3WAVE TEN'S unit by EMPI, it's electrodes that send inpulses through the skin. These impulses stimulate the nerves or muscle fibers. give that a try