For most people, sciatica responds well to self-care measures. You'll heal more quickly if you continue with your usual activities but avoid what may have triggered the pain in the first place. Although resting for a day or so may provide some relief, prolonged inactivity will make your signs and symptoms worse.
Other self-care treatments that may be helpful include:
Sept. 19, 2012
- Cold packs. Initially, you may get relief from a cold pack placed on the painful area for up 20 minutes several times a day. Use an ice pack or a package of frozen peas wrapped in a clean towel.
- Hot packs. After two to three days, apply heat to the areas that hurt. Use hot packs, a heat lamp or a heating pad on the lowest setting. If you continue to have pain, try alternating warm and cold packs.
- Stretching. Stretching exercises for your low back can help you feel better and may help relieve nerve root compression. Avoid jerking, bouncing or twisting during the stretch and try to hold the stretch at least 30 seconds.
- Over-the-counter medications. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve) are sometimes helpful for sciatica.
- Bradley WG, et al. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Butterworth-Heinemann Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7506-7525-3..X5001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-7506-7525-3&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Aug. 2, 2012.
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- Shekelle P. Spinal manipulation in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.