A lot of people know what sciatica actually means—low back pain that crawls down into the right or left buttock into the leg and even all the way to the foot. In rarer cases, the pain can be debilitating, and while it may sound incredible, sciatica often goes away after 3 months of conservative treatment. That “conservative treatments” are non-invasive rehabilitation that can be done in the comfort of your own home.
The 5 do-it-at-home sciatica pain therapies below are good choices for people who just started experiencing sciatic nerve pain or whose pain is not really severe, but I recommend you to still get your doctor’s go-signal before trying out any of these at-home remedies. If you have been dealing with sciatica pain for a few weeks or have excruciating low back and leg pain, you should still see your doctor.
Incorporating gentle exercise into your daily routine can help ease sciatica.
Sciatica At-home Tip #1: It’s Alright to Exercise
It may feel inconvenient to exercise and workout when you’re in pain, but studies suggest that resting too much can also aggravate your back and leg symptoms. Incorporate gentle exercise into your routine to alleviate your sciatica pain. The key is doing gentle and light exercises: Exercise should not be strenuous. A brisk walk around the block is a good example of physical activity that keeps your spine strong without doing any further damage. In addition to making your spine and back stronger (core exercises, a strong spine better protects against sciatic pain), exercise triggers the release of feel-good hormones, endorphins, to alleviate your perception of pain.
Sciatica At-home Tip #2: Stretch It Out
Include gentle stretching into your daily exercise routine. Stretching is a great way to improve your flexibility, as well as your range of motion while also developing core and spinal strength. Plus, most stretches are simple enough to be done at home, while watching your favorite movie or listening to your favorite tracks.
Sciatica At-home Tip #3: Grab the Ice Pack and Heating Pad
Alternating heat and ice therapy can offer immediate relief of sciatic pain. Ice can help lessen inflammation, while heat promotes blood flow to the painful area (which thus speeds healing). Heat and ice may as well help ease painful muscle cramps that often accompany sciatica pain. Apply an ice pack to the sore area for about 15 minutes once every hour, and then put heat for 15 minutes or so every 2 or 3 hours. Keep in mind to always use a barrier (like a towel) to protect your skin when applying heat or ice, and never sleep while on heat or ice therapy.
Sciatica At-home Tip #4: Refresh Your Posture
Whether you are relaxing at home or working at your desk, if you remain in the same position for far too long, you might yourself in excruciating sciatica pain. Changing your posture every 20 minutes or so, and using refreshing posture can help take the pressure off your nerves and spine and reduce your sciatica pain and symptoms.
Sciatica At-home Tip #5: Grab Your Sciatica Pain Medications
Over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help alleviate sciatica symptoms when they start to strike. NSAIDs can be a good choice because they ease both inflammation and pain, unlike acetaminophen (Tylenol) that only alleviates pain. However, NSAIDs still bear health risks that you should read about and understand before using them, so make sure to talk about their safety with your doctor first.
Relieving sciatic pain at home with gentle exercise, proper posture, ice and heat therapy, and medication may go a long way to speed up your recovery. But the most significant action you can do for your nerve pain is to take it seriously—never hesitate to call your doctor if you are not experiencing the level of relief you expected to feel.
When Your Sciatica Calls for a Visit to Your Doctor
It is crucial to identify when at-home rehabilitation isn’t alleviating your sciatica pain. If these remedies don’t help you, it may be high time to have a check-up with your personal doctor or spine specialist.
People avoid their doctors for a lot of different reasons. Maybe you are unsure about how to utilize your health insurance or you don’t have one. Or maybe you simply do not like visiting the doctor and would rather take on an “ignorance-is-bliss” approach.
Whatever your reason is, a lot of sciatica symptoms truly warrant immediate medical attention. In rare cases, delaying proper medical care could cause permanent nerve damage.