How to Ease the Painful Symptoms of Sciatica

Approaching Sciatica One Step at a Time

When the sciatic nerve gets pinched, it can cause pain and discomfort. The pain begins in the lower back and courses down the nerve that runs through the buttock and into the foot. This leg pain is known as radiculopathy and this uncomfortable sensation is usually felt in a single leg.

A herniated disk is the most common cause of sciatica. The nerve can get pinched when a tear or crack develops in the disk causing it to bulge into the spinal canal.

More often than not, the pain will go away on its own within 6 weeks, but in some cases it can persist, and pain relief may be elusive.

If your symptoms persist, these solutions may help to ease the pain:


In some cases, spinal manipulation has been proven to provide as much relief as surgery in people who didn’t find relief with other forms of therapy. In a study performed in 2010, 120 individuals visited a chiropractor multiple times a week for four weeks. As the weekly visits continued, subjects decreased the number of visits as they started to feel better. The people that responded to the treatment noted that the benefits of the treatment lasted up to a year.


Acupuncture can provide relief after the first session and may continue to improve pain with continued sessions by helping relax the muscles. There are very few risks associated with acupuncture and the potential benefits are significant.


Yoga can strengthen muscles and help increase flexibility and range of motion. It can also prevent movements and postures that aggravate pain in the sciatic nerve.


Trigger point therapy is the most effective for sciatica. A trigger point is a spot that is extremely painful. The sciatic nerve lies deep beneath the glutes and when the muscles above the nerve tense up it can cause the numbness and tingling down through the leg.

Pressure is applied to those painful, inflamed trigger points, usually every 7-10 days. If there is no progress by session four, this type of therapy probably will not be effective.

Ice and Heat

Ice or heat will not decrease the inflammation deep within the muscles of the leg and buttock, but applying it over the painful area will help redirect the pain signals and may ease the sciatic pain a bit.

Muscle Relaxants and Pain Relievers

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as over-the-counter ibuprofen or a prescription medication can help diminish the pain. Muscle relaxants are also commonly prescribed as the pain is often accompanied by a herniated disk.

Epidural Steroid Injections

If the pain does not subside after a month and other therapies have failed, a steroid injection into the lower back near the nerve may be administered to reduce inflammation. Epidural injections are limited to a few a year because the medication can cause the spine and surrounding muscles to weaken.

Exercise and Physical Therapy

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to be physically active. Exercising promotes increased blood flow to the spine, which helps carry inflammatory agents away from the affected area. Swimming is a great way to stay active while alleviating pressure on the back. You can also try working with a physical therapist to learn stretches and muscle strengthening techniques.


If medications and therapies continue to fail, surgery may be an option to repair a herniated disk. Many patients that undergo surgery report a significant decrease in pain that lasts up to four years.

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