Sciatica is a painful condition that can have a significant impact on your life. It causes pain in the lower back, hip and leg due to pressure or irritation of the sciatic nerve root. Sciatica can be caused by many things such as slipped discs, pinched nerves, muscle tension or pregnancy.
In this article we will discuss 17 treatments for relieving sciatic nerve discomfort. Whether you’re looking for natural remedies like stretching and exercise or more traditional methods like chiropractic care and physical therapy, we’ve got you covered!
1. Perform Strength Training Exercises
Living with sciatica can be hard, but strength training exercises have been highly recommended to help manage sciatic nerve pain.
Strength training exercises are great as they can improve sciatica-related muscle imbalances and reduce sciatica-influenced lower back and hip tension. Science has shown that sciatica is often linked to a lack of adequate strength in the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve.
Strength training can not only provide sciatic nerve relief, but it can also help address sciatica-associated postural shifts by correcting muscle imbalances, decreased flexibility, and limited range of motion.
Additionally, certain sciatica exercise movements can help ease sciatica symptoms such as walking lunges and single-leg bridges, which involve strengthening the surrounding muscles and developing balance.
Below is a list of some strength training exercises that you can implement:
- Hip bridges
- Wall presses
- Chair dips
- Calf raises
- Glute bridges
2. Perform Stretching Exercises
Stretching exercises can offer a great way to ease sciatica pain and keep the body flexible. A standing hamstring stretch, for example, is an easy standing exercise that helps with sciatica pain relief and improved flexibility in the lower back and legs. It’s a great way to improve overall muscle tone and posture while enjoying the therapeutic benefits associated with stretching.
Additionally, when done correctly, standing stretches help reduce stress while calming muscles that have been tightened by long periods of standing or sitting. Incorporating stretching exercises into your daily routine will provide tangible benefits to your body’s physical health.
Below is a list of some stretching exercises that you can implement:
- Cat-cow stretch
- Hamstring stretches
- Gluteal/piriformis stretches
- Child’s pose
- Opposite shoulder Stretch
- Supine twist
- Kneeling stretch
- Standing calf stretch
- Lumbar side stretch
- Seated spinal rotation
3. Perform Low Impact Exercises
Low impact exercises can be particularly beneficial to chronic back pain patients. By engaging in mild aerobic activity – like walking, swimming, or biking – chronic back pain sufferers may be able to significantly reduce their levels of chronic pain and discomfort.
Low impact exercises help to loosen tight muscles and stiff joints that become chronic issues as a result of strained and tightly compressed sciatic nerves.
Regular low impact exercises carried out with the guidance of medical professionals can help you to reduce the severity of your chronic pain, thus allowing you an improved quality of life without the need for medication or invasive treatments.
Below is a list of some low impact exercises that you can implement:
- Stair Machines
- Elliptical Machine
- Tai Chi
- Bike Riding
- Vibration Therapy Machines
4. Perform Postural Alignment Exercises
Postural alignment exercises can be a great way to relieve pain and help your body feel its best. They can even help in relieving debilitating conditions like sciatica, which is a lower limb radiating pain. Such exercises may help reduce the discomfort caused by imbalances or improper positioning of the spine and pelvis while you perform daily movements.
You can find many postural alignment exercises online or consult a qualified physical therapist with specific experience in manual therapy to get started.
To make sure that you are doing them correctly and safely it’s always a good idea to speak with an experienced professional first. With the right guidance, postural alignment exercises can help improve your posture and helping you lead an active lifestyle.
Below is a list of some postural alignment exercises that you can implement:
- Butterfly Stretch
- Standing Wall Quad Stretch
- Lower Back Extension
- Bird Dog Exercise
- Single-Leg Balance & Reaches
- Reverse Plank Leg Raises
- Core-Engaging Squats
- Prone Press Ups With Alternating Leg Lift
- Superman Pose Variations
- Spinal Twists & Extensions Clubs
3. Perform Spinal Decompression Exercises
Spinal decompression exercises are known to improve the upper body and spinal muscles’ flexibility and stability, helping those with severe low back pain.
These exercises can help increase lumbar function for patients who have moderate to severe low back pain. Through regularly completing these exercises, individuals can work to manage their symptoms and reduce or eliminate their reliance on medications used to treat low back pain.
Those who have experienced non-responsive low back discomfort may find increased relief with the use of spinal decompression exercises.
Below is a list of some spinal decompression exercises that you can implement:
- Overhead Stretch
- Bar Hang
- Standing Kitchen Sink Stretch
- Prayer Stretch
- Cat & Cow Stretch
- Bridge Pose
- Single Leg Lifts
- Cobra Pose
- Knee-to-Chest Stretch
- Wall Hamstring Stretch
4. Perform Core Exercises
Strengthening your stomach and abdominal muscles can be incredibly beneficial to your physical health. Abdominal exercises can help with decreasing the risk of developing common chronic conditions, like sciatica and lower back pain.
Physical therapy may even suggest a specialized selection of abdominal exercises to alleviate persistent symptoms or develop better core strength.
Although it may take careful dedication to successful exercise regimes to achieve the desired effects, stomach and abdominal strengthening are an integral part of any active lifestyle.
Below is a list of some abdominal exercises that you can implement:
- Glute Bridge March
- Mountain Climbers
- Plank With Knee Tap
- Shoulder Tap & Jack
- Leg Lower
- Side Plank
- Reverse Crunch
- Hollow Body Hold
- Lateral Bear Walk
- Bear Crawl
- Heel Taps
- Beast Hold
- Seated Rotation
- Banded Bird Dog
- Cross-Body Iso Deadbug
- Stir The Pot
- Triple Triple
5. Perform Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises are beneficial for overall physical health and can have specific effects on severe pain.
Regular aerobic exercise helps to improve the body’s circulation by increasing blood flow throughout the body. This can provide relief from severe pain by allowing the body to transport oxygen and nutrients more efficiently.
Incorporating aerobic exercises into a regular exercise program is essential for the reduction of pain over time and should be included in your comprehensive treatment plan to fight sciatica.
Below is a list of some aerobic exercises that you can implement:
- Elliptical Trainer
- Jumping Rope
6. Perform Isometric Exercises
Isometric exercises are a type of strength-training technique that has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to its effectiveness in sciatica pain relief.
Isometric exercise therapies involve the deliberate contraction and relaxation of individual muscle groups, from sources such as stretching and balance training, to target sciatic nerve pain.
By stimulating sciatica exercises directly at the site of distress, you can experience powerful sciatica pain relief.
Isometric exercises offer a safe, non-invasive way for those suffering from sciatica symptoms to achieve increased mobility and improved quality of life.
Below is a list of some isometric exercises that you can implement:
- Wall Sit
- High Plank Hold
- Side Plank
- Low Squat
- Overhead Hold
- Glute Bridge
- Calf Raise & Hold
7. Perform Balance Exercises
Balance exercises can be incredibly beneficial for sciatica sufferers. These sciatica-specific exercises involve activities that target the sciatic nerve and help to reduce pain levels. They are designed to stretch out surrounding muscle groups, providing relief from sciatica-related tingling and numbness sensations.
As indicated by multiple studies, balance exercises can significantly reduce sciatica pain levels when performed regularly. Many physical therapists are now recommending balance exercises as an alternative or complimentary sciatica treatment, which makes sense given the link between improved balance and sciatica relief.
Below is a list of some balance exercises that you can implement:
- Standing March
- Standing 3-Way Kicks
- 1-Leg Stand
- Sit To Stand & Stand To Sit
- Heel-to-Toe Standing or Walking
8. Hot Or Cold Therapy
Heat and cold therapies provide effective and safe relief for sciatica and other forms of muscle pain. Studies have found that heat helps to reduce swelling and spasms while cold helps to lessen inflammation.
The particular application of heat or cold chosen can significantly affect the pain level experienced by the patient. Heat can be used to relax tight muscles, which often causes sciatica, while cold therapy can help to alleviate inflammation in certain areas as well as numb the surrounding area afflicted with sciatica or low back pain.
Ultimately, deciding between the two methods, heat or cold therapy should depend on an individual’s symptoms and goals. Both are effective approaches in relieving the pressure placed on your joints and helping to reduce pain levels.
9. Cortisone Injections
Cortisone injections provide an effective way to manage sciatica and low back pain. For many patients, the injection of cortisone helps them attain a level of pain relief that was previously unattainable without the aid of opioids.
By administering a small dose of cortisone directly into the affected area, you are able to alleviate pressure in targeted areas and reduce inflammation that may be causing sciatic or other types of persistent physical pain.
As such, cortisone injections can offer a safe and effective treatment option for those suffering from sciatica and lower back pain with fewer side effects than other methods of treatment.
Acupuncture is a centuries-old practice used to treat a variety of physical ailments. It has been shown to reduce sciatica pain levels by stimulating the sciatic nerve.
This method of treatment is conducted by a specialist who will insert thin needles into specific points in an effort to relieve pain and restore balance in the body.
Depending on the severity of symptoms, additional treatments may be recommended such as various massage techniques or electric stimulation.
Although acupuncture can be very effective in reducing sciatica pain, it is essential that it be performed properly by qualified professionals for best results.
Surgery can be an effective way to alleviate sciatica, cauda equina syndrome and degenerative disc disease. It solidifies the sciatic nerve to take pressure off of the sciatic nerve.
Before opting for surgery, doctors typically recommend conservative treatments such as medications, stretching and exercise, physical therapy and/or epidural steroid injections.
Nonetheless, when these treatments fail to provide relief, surgery can be a viable solution.
Furthermore, talented surgeons have various therapies at their disposal (microdiscectomy, laminectomy etc.) that are designed to block pain signals from the sciatic nerve and restore proper function of the sciatic nerve.
Medications can be an important component in managing sciatica, cauda equina syndrome, and other sciatic nerve issues as well as degenerative disc disease.
Prescribed medication may include muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasms, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and swelling, or opioids by prescription for more serious cases of sciatica where the other medications do not have sufficient effects.
Over time, these medications may help maintain a comfortable sciatic nerve state that does not interfere with an individual’s life. Be sure to follow instructions from your doctor for taking any required medications for sciatic problems.
Sciatica can be a debilitating condition, but it doesn’t have to take over your life. By implementing the various treatments we’ve discussed in this article, you should notice an improvement in your pain levels and overall quality of life.
From aerobic exercises that help improve circulation to isometric exercises for targeted relief and balance exercises for improved mobility, there are many ways to reduce the severity of sciatica with simple lifestyle changes.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional if any of these methods don’t seem like enough – they will likely be able to provide more specialized advice tailored specifically toward treating your sciatic nerve pain.