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?



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.
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
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.
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
I feel your pain as I write this. I cannot walk, sit, lay, stand, without excruciating pain. I am had not slept for 4 nights, muscle spasms that would wake my husband up from me screaming... Have you considered medical marijuana? They do have topical rubs that actually work. My father was a preacher who died of brain cancer...He even used the butters, edibles.....I AM STILL IN PAIN AND DONE WITH PRESCRIPTIONS...MEDICINAL HAS MADE IT BEARABLE.
I cant begin to tell u the pain i was in for years it got worst and worst. I my diagnosis was 2 herniated disc in lower back pinched sciatic nerver. Disc disgreneration and nerve damage in right leg and foot.the doc ssid good new nit bad enough for surgery. ....i cried i was in so much pain i was wanting surgery in hopes if fixing it and at that risk of paralysis i was in so much pain i thought i don't wanna be paralyzed but ibwoukd feel pain if i was and thats bad...i can do pain meds even tramadol make me drowsy all day i have kids i can be in a drugged stupor..i looked and researched and i baught an inversion table i recommend it i went from wheelchair to abke to walk around theme parks with rest breaks but was a new world..i still get some pain there if i get over zealous and do something i shouldn't but in few days i feel better inflammatory pills and that table have saved me ...and i dont go fully inverted. I go not even half in between laying like in bed and full inverted hope this helpsp
I have had sciatica now for about 6 months and it is finally resolving. I wish someone had asked me things like. How do you sleep are you doing anything differently, what about your shoes. I had been sleeping with a pillow in my lower back as it made my lower back pain better and after I stopped doing that my sciatic got better. Then I also added a pad in my shoe on the side with the leg in pain. Then finally I started doing water aerobics twice a week with stretching. So think about anything you may have started doing differently even six months ago...new bed, new shoes, new way of sleeping, stopped doing something, walking, new car you are getting out of differently. It would have to be something you do a lot or have stopped doing totally. Prednisone helped me but not as much until I started taking it at night. I was taking it during the day as it jazzes me up a little. Anyway hope this helps someone some day.
I have been suffering from Sciatica from the butt, hip calf (exetremely painful) and the foot as well. I have had success with treating the pain. 2 Ibuprofen every fours hours. Ice packs, Jacuzzi, Swimming, Stretching, Hot showers in the morning and sleeping on the floor, flat on my stomach and most importanly. Tiger balm to keep restful at night. A loofa (sp) shower thing use over the painful area while showering to increase blood flow. I could barely move two weeks ago and I couldn't even bend over to pick up my cat. With the swimming (not hard) every day. I have a been seeing results that increase my range of motion and strength slowly returning. Some mornings are rough where I have a hard time walking but when I get going I can go for a few strong hours at work with just Ibuprofen. I would recommend changing shoes, not sleeping in a soft bed or sitting on a soft couch or chair and not lifting anything that compresses the spine. This same thing happened to me years ago and Physical Therapy did not work. Muscle relaxers help but aren't wear off. Acupunture and Chiropractic did work but is expensive.
Hi. My name is Biva n m frm India. I was also suffering from sciatica n I know how painful it is. I did consult 4 different doctors but they couldn't help me. They just advised me some vitamin tablets n said " Don't worry ur pain will go eventually". I was helpless n started to feel like a handicap couldn't walk or do anything. I suffered this pain for 6 months. Finally I met a lady from Nepal n she advised me to massage my leg with Kerosene oil. Massage from hip to toe.. Lik let the pain go out through ur toe. Massage before going to sleep at night. Soon after massaging stand up n walk at least for a minute. Let it be there for the whole night n u can tak bath in the morning. Within a week u will get relief. Let me warn u first two nights u may experience extreme pain. Kerosene oil worked for me. If kerosene doesn't work try rifle oil. Do let me know if it worked or not. Ty
I agree fully with the above set. I haven't tried anything else. Since I worked on my posture, e.g: the way I sit, the way I walk, getting up out of the sitting position, how I get up out of bed, the way I bend whilst picking up things etc... All of this has helped me manage my situation.
Can someone help to name some over the counter sciatic nerve pain relief. Thank you.
Nsaids:Ibuprofen, sodium naproxen (aleve) or aspirin. Topical analgesics: menthol gel or mineral ice, tiger balm
Capsaicin (hot pepper compound) patches are also sold over the counter and shown to work. Good luck to you.
BIOFREEZE GEL is the only pain relieving rub I would recommend for any area that one would use a rub for. My Chiropractor started me using it. Biofreeze is hard to find. But if you use a independent pharmacy they could order it for you. I have seen it at Walgreens. I have used about ALL rubs there is. Biofreeze is the only one that worked so well I could do yardwork with. I was without it for a while, and even with all my meds the pain was still there. But my supply came in and things are gettin better again. I hope you can find some and try it, sure makes the big diffrence for me.
As I mentioned before I have been dealing with sever epain for 6 months, tried everything from rubs to physio, nothing helps. The sports medicine doctor at my physio told me that te MRI and Ultrasound shoes nothing wrong so just deal with it and learn to manage the pain. Meanwhile it has set me into a depression, don't want to leave home except to go to work because I can only walk about half a block before the pain starts. As Walker Ali says...people just don't understand how dehabilitating this is. I have gone from a happy-go-lucky person to an angry sad person giving up on life. Last week I started seeing a chiropractor who took an x-ray and told me exactly what's wrong. Not only are my hips out of alignment but so is my neck and upper back where I have and also he said it's my periformis muscle. Finally someone taking me seriously! So I have had 4 sessions with him, not much change yet but yesterday I did notice a slight improvement. Although just a slight one, I almost jumped for joy..I say almost because with my luck I would have sprained something. He also said orthotics would help and I am thinking about that one. I hope everyone feels better soon.
Thanks KP.....there's no pain this this pain....I'll suggest the chiropractor to my doctor tomorrow.....something has got to give.......:-(..... Worst pain I've ever experienced.......!!
Tried everything including chropractic therapy, acupuncture and physical therapy, but nothing resolved the problem. It's been 3 years, had an EMG and an MRI which the neurosurgeon I just saw feels surgery isn't warranted surgery since the slight bulging disc isn't causing it. He feels it could be the piriformis muscle under the sciatic nerve, so more therapy was prescribed. The PT gurus think the nerve is inflamed, but only short-term relief with ultra-sound. So, what's next?