For most people, sciatica responds to self-care measures. 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 might help include:
Aug. 14, 2015
- Cold packs. Initially, you might get relief from a cold pack placed on the painful area for up to 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 might help relieve nerve root compression. Avoid jerking, bouncing or twisting during the stretch, and try to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
- Over-the-counter medications. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) are sometimes helpful for sciatica.
- Hsu PS, et al. Lumbosacral radiculopathy: Pathophysiology, clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Sciatica. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00351. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Levin K, et al. Acute lumbosacral radiculopathy: Prognosis and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Sciatica. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal-and-connective-tissue-disorders/neck-and-back-pain/sciatica. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Wheeler SG, et al. Evaluation of low back pain in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Shekelle P, et al. Spinal manipulation in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 16, 2015.
- Acupuncture for pain. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/acupuncture-for-pain.htm. Accessed June 17, 2015.