If you have sciatica, you know how painful it can be and how quickly you want sciatic pain relief. Any irritation to the sciatic nerve can sideline a person quickly. The sciatic nerve is your body’s biggest, thickest, and longest nerve. It runs from your lower back and spine through the hips and buttocks and branches down each leg. This crucial nerve can be irritated, damaged, inflamed, pinched, or compressed, which in turn causes pain, discomfort, weakness, and sometimes tingling or numbness in the legs, hips, or buttocks.
If you’re wondering what helps relieve sciatic nerve pain the quickest, then the best answer is to see a doctor and get a specific treatment plan for your sciatica problem. The experts at Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital can treat sciatic discomfort by discovering the underlying cause of the nerve irritation as well as provide therapies for immediate relief of sciatica pain.
In America, 10% to 40% of people have had sciatica at one time in their life. Luckily, 80% to 90% of people with sciatica recover without surgery, and about half of those patients recover in about six weeks. Whether your sciatic pain is a result of a car accident, an injury such as a herniated disc, or a condition like piriformis syndrome (piriformis muscle spasms), there are many conservative treatment options to help mitigate your symptoms right now. Here are seven tips for fast sciatic pain relief.
1. Use Hot and Cold Packs for Quick Sciatic Pain Relief
Relieving sciatic nerve pain quickly can begin at home. Use ice packs for the first 72 hours of your sciatica pain, especially if the pain is the consequence of an injury. Ice reduces swelling, which can reduce sciatic nerve compression. Never place an ice pack directly on your skin – wrap the pack in a towel and only apply a cold pack for 15-20 minutes at a time.
After the first 72 hours, you can switch to heat. Apply a heating pad for only 20 minutes at a time. The heat can calm spasming or tense muscles, reducing pain and stress. If you are still in pain after a couple of days of using heat, you can alternate between ice and heat on the painful area, using whichever treatment gives you the most relief.
2. Try Over-The-Counter Medications
Medication can help with pain relief and inflammation. Be sure to check with your doctor before you start any drug therapy. Common over-the-counter medications for sciatic pain relief include:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
- Aspirin (Bayer®)
- NSAIDs (Motrin® and Advil®)
- Naproxen sodium (Aleve®)
3. Don’t Stop Moving
The last thing we may want to do when experiencing sciatica is to move. Although it may seem hard, we need to keep moving to keep our bodies from becoming weaker and incurring additional chronic pain. Don’t stay on bed rest, but don’t overdo it either: listen to your body so you can give it what it needs. Moving occasionally and doing gentle stretches may be all you need for fast sciatic pain relief.
4. Quick Sciatic Pain Relief Stretches
Gentle stretches will keep your muscles working and ease compression or pinching. Improving your strength and flexibility will not only help with current sciatic pain, but it can also help prevent further sciatic flare-ups. Lower back pain in the lumbar spine can be swiftly reduced with simple stretching exercises for back muscles and the spinal cord.
Healthline recommends these ten sciatic pain relief stretches. You may not yet be flexible enough for all these exercises, so adjust when necessary and go at your own pace. These stretches have instructions and pictures you can follow.
- Reclining pigeon pose
- Sitting pigeon pose
- Forward pigeon pose
- Knee to the opposite shoulder
- Sitting spinal stretch
- Standing hamstring stretch
- Basic seated stretch
- Standing piriformis stretch
- Groin muscle stretch
- Scissor stretch
5. Try Alternative Therapies
There are less common alternative treatments available that may provide faster sciatic pain relief. These include:
- Acupuncture: One focus study group found acupuncture more effective at treating sciatica than some medications.
- Massage: Massage increases circulation, decreases stress and relaxes muscles, which can ease sciatic pain.
- Yoga: As previously discussed, stretching is a great way to achieve sciatic pain relief. Yoga teaches mindfulness, strength, and flexibility, which are all beneficial to easing sciatic distress.
- Stress Management: When we feel stressed, our bodies get tense, and our muscles can become sore and tired. Mental health help, meditation, or biofeedback can help relax the supporting anatomical structures around the sciatic nerve.
6. Go to Physical Therapy
Doctors often prescribe physical therapy to treat and manage your acute or chronic sciatic pain. PT usually involves most rapid relief remedies (icing, heating, massage, stretching, strength, and flexibility exercises) to provide pain relief, eliminate the underlying cause of the sciatica nerve pain, and prevent further injury and flare-ups. Physical Therapy can also restore function and mobility, promote neurological restructuring for perceiving less pain, and physical therapists will work with your physician on the best treatment plan for your pain and injury.
The physical therapy teams at MOSH are specially trained to deal with orthopedic conditions that create sciatic issues. Sometimes all it takes to get fast pain relief for sciatica with a PT is a few targeted stretches, an ice and heat regimen, and simple lifestyle adjustments. MOSH’s physical therapists work with all sciatic issues so you can get back in the game.
7. Know When to See a Doctor for Sciatic Pain Relief
If you haven’t found any relief from the symptoms of sciatica through conservative treatments, your pain lasts longer than six weeks, or you experience numbness and tingling, you should see a doctor. Orthopedic specialists can provide professional sciatic treatment for both pain and the underlying cause of the sciatica nerve damage. Your initial consultation may include a physical exam and imaging, which will aid your MOSH physician in finding the quickest and best way to get you back to your active lifestyle.
Non-surgical, physician-only quick relief methods may include:
- Prescription pain relief and anti-inflammatory medicinal treatment plan
- Steroids like oral prednisone
- Epidural steroid injections
- Nerve blocks (injection of analgesia or anesthesia near the nerve root)
At Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, we understand the importance of specialized orthopedic care by experienced professionals who focus on the complexities of specific parts of the body. We’ll work with you to find the right solution for your sciatic concern. When you experience sciatic pain, consult with our experts to get a treatment plan for fast sciatic pain relief, correction of the sciatica cause, and symptom management tools to prevent flare-ups and further injury. Contact us to see how you can have pain relief today, or call 414-817-5800.