Ways to Find Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief

Back of person with highlighted area to show sciatica pain

The sciatic nerve sends movement and sensory signals from the brain through the spine and into the legs. When pressure is put on the sciatic nerve, it causes sciatica and leads to nerve pain and other symptoms. Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics (CNSO) provides comprehensive medical care for patients with sciatica and other spine conditions in northern New Jersey. Here, the CNSO team discusses ways that patients can find sciatic nerve pain relief.

What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a common condition in which the sciatic nerve gets compressed or pinched. The sciatic nerve is the longest in the body, running from the lower back through the hips, buttocks, legs, and feet on both sides. Other spine problems commonly lead to the compression of this nerve and sciatica, such as herniated discs, bone spurs, or spinal stenosis. Sciatica describes the pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling that radiates down a leg or both legs. It can range from mild to severe, depending on the level of nerve compression.

Conservative Ways to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain

When treating sciatic nerve pain, the main goals are to relieve the pain and symptoms and deal with the underlying cause. That prevents symptoms from recurring. It is best to work with a spine specialist to develop the best treatment plan, especially if the sciatica is severe. However, there are some steps that patients can take on their own to help relieve their sciatic nerve pain. These include:

Stretching and Exercising

Sciatica pain may make patients not want to stretch or move, but gentle stretches can help reduce compression or pinching. The key is to take it slow, be gentle, and adjust when necessary. Stretches for reducing sciatica pain include:

  • Seated forward bend
  • Groin muscle stretch
  • Sitting spinal stretch
  • Standing hamstring stretch

These stretches also help improve strength, range of motion, and flexibility, which are all beneficial for preventing future flare-ups.

Regular movement, especially low-impact cardio, is another way to help reduce sciatica pain. Being sedentary keeps the nerve irritated, while movement helps reduce the inflammation.

Heat/Cold Therapy

One way to experience sciatic nerve pain relief at home is by using heat or cold therapy. Ice packs are best the first few days of the flare-up to reduce inflammation. Afterward, using warm packs or heating pads is best to encourage blood flow and healing of the area. It is important to apply these hot or cold packs for only 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Some patients find the best relief when alternating between heat and cold therapies.

Medication

When structures surrounding the sciatic nerve are damaged or misaligned, they can pinch or press on it and cause sciatic pain. Patients can manage this pain through various medications, including:

  • Over-the-counter medications:Physicians may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation.
  • Muscle relaxers:These may be used to reduce stiffness and increase circulation, although only for temporary relief.
  • Nerve membrane stabilizers: These medications can help decrease the irritation of pinched nerves that cause sciatica pain.

Steroids: Corticosteroids can be injected into the spine to offer short-term relief.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a common treatment option for relieving sciatica pain, whether it is acute or chronic. Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to help strengthen the muscles in the lower back and legs, including:

  • Manual therapy
  • Stretching
  • Massage
  • Strength and flexibility exercises

Physical therapy is often prescribed in conjunction with other treatments, like pain medication, for the best results.

Surgical Treatments to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain

If patients have severe sciatic nerve pain, or if symptoms do not improve with more conservative solutions, surgical treatment may be the best option. Common surgical procedures used to reduce nerve pain from sciatica include:

At CNSO, the team takes a conservative approach to care, opting for non-surgical treatment options before resorting to more invasive methods like back surgery.

Find Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief at CNSO

Patients with sciatica deserve relief from nerve pain. The dedicated team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics works collaboratively to develop personalized treatment plans for patients with sciatic nerve pain. Consisting of neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, interventional pain management physicians, physiatrists, rehabilitation specialists, and certified physical therapists, the CNSO team provides comprehensive medical care at locations throughout northern New Jersey. To learn more about how CNSO helps patients experience sciatic nerve pain relief, contact us today.

Centers for Neurosurgery Spine & Orthopedics