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:
Sep. 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.
- Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1678/0.html. Accessed Aug. 2, 2012.
- Hsu PS, et al. Lumbosacral radiculopathy: Pathophysiology, clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 2, 2012.
- Levin K, et al. Acute lumbosacral radiculopathy: Prognosis and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 2, 2012.
- Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..X0001-1--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05472-0&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Aug. 2, 2012.
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Radiculopathy. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2003.
- Knight CL, et al. Treatment of acute low back pain. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.
- Acupuncture for pain. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/acupuncture-for-pain.htm. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.
- Shekelle P. Spinal manipulation in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.