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Treating Sciatica

Treating Sciatica


What Is Sciatica?

Back pain can take many different forms. It might emerge suddenly after an accident or appear gradually and mysteriously over months. It could be sudden and brief which is known as acute, or, long-lasting known as chronic.

Some types of back pain can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but others require stronger medications or even surgery.

Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the source of your back discomfort, but other times it’s simple. Sciatica is one of those conditions that is quite easy to diagnose. You may not even need to see a doctor if you use home remedies.

The sciatic nerve starts at the base of your spine and goes through your hips and buttocks before branching off down each leg.

The sciatic nerve is the longest and most significant nerve in your body. It affects your capacity to control and feel your legs directly. Sciatica occurs when this nerve becomes inflamed.

Sciatica is a pain in the back, buttocks, and legs that can range from mild to severe. You may also experience:

  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Acute pain

Sciatica is a symptom caused by an injury to your sciatic nerve or a region that affects the nerve, such as your neck and backbones known as your vertebrae.

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Symptoms of Sciatica

Sciatica is discomfort that radiates from your lower back to your buttocks and into your lower limbs.

Because sciatica is caused by damage or injury to the sciatic nerve, it is common for other signs of nerve damage to accompany the pain. Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain that worsens as you move
  • Along the sciatic nerve pathway, you may have numbness, burning, or weakness in your legs or feet, which can progress to loss of feeling or movement in extreme situations.
  • Pins and needles are painful tingling sensation that occurs in your toes or foot.
  • The inability to control your bladder or bowels is an uncommon symptom of cauda equina syndrome that requires prompt medical intervention.


Sciatica is a symptom that varies from person to person and is dependent on the underlying illness. Your doctor would want to know your entire medical history before diagnosing sciatica.

This includes whether you’ve had any recent injuries, where the pain is coming from, and how it’s feeling. They’ll want to know what causes it to improve or worse, as well as how and when it began.

A physical exam will be performed next to assess your muscular strength and reflexes. Your doctor may also ask you to complete some stretches and exercises to see which activities give the most pain.

People who have had sciatica for more than a month or who have a chronic disease like cancer will undergo the next set of diagnostic examinations.

Your doctor will use nerve testing to assess how your sciatic nerve conducts nerve signals and see if there are any problems. These tests may aid in determining the affected area and the degree to which the impulse is retarded.

Imaging tests can give your doctor a peek at your spine and help them figure out what’s causing your sciatica.

Spinal X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans are the most common imaging techniques used to diagnose sciatica and determine its origin. Normal X-rays cannot reveal sciatic nerve damage, but they can reveal bony anomalies that can press on the nerve or disc space reductions that could indicate disc herniations.

An MRI creates comprehensive images of your back using magnets and radio waves. A CT scan creates comprehensive images of your body using radiation.

A CT myelogram may be ordered by your doctor. They’ll inject a special dye into your spine for this test to help them see your spinal cord and nerves more clearly.



Sciatica is a problem that affects the nerves that go down your back and is caused by a number of conditions that affect your spine. An injury, such as falling, or spinal or sciatic nerve tumours, can also cause it.

The following are some of the most common causes of sciatica.

Herniated discs

Discs comprised of cartilage separate your vertebrae, or spinal bones. Cartilage is made up of a thick, transparent substance that provides flexibility and cushioning when you move. When the initial layer of cartilage rips, herniated discs result.

The substance inside the disc might bulge outward or totally flow out, compressing your sciatic nerve and causing pain and numbness in your lower limbs. A slipped disc is expected to cause back discomfort in 1 to 5% of the population at some point in their lives.

Spinal stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is another name for spinal stenosis. The aberrant narrowing of your lower spinal canal characterises it. The pressure on your spinal cord and sciatic nerve roots is caused by this constriction.


Spondylolisthesis is one of the degenerative disc disorder’s related symptoms. When one spinal bone, or vertebra, moves forward over another, the nerves that make up your sciatic nerve can be pinched.

Piriformis syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is a rare neuromuscular condition that causes sciatica when your piriformis muscle contracts or tightens spontaneously. This is the muscle that links your lower back to your thighs.

It might put a strain on your sciatic nerve and cause sciatica if it tightens. Piriformis syndrome can become worse if you sit for lengthy periods of time, fall, or have a car accident.

Stretches to relieve Sciatica Pain

Side-lying hip stretch

Side-lying hip stretch

Lie on your right side on the floor, knees slightly bent. Underneath your head, place a pillow.

Slowly lower your left knee to the floor and slide your left leg (upper leg) toward your chest.

Lower your left leg to the floor by gently straightening it until the hip and knee are aligned with your bottom leg.

Rep 3 times more.
Repeat on the other side with the right leg on top.

Back-lying hip flexor stretch

Back-lying hip flexor stretch

Lie on your back on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the ground.

Raise both knees up to your sternum.

Close your arms around your right knee and bring it close to your chest.

Slide your left leg down onto the floor, straightening it out as far as possible and attempting to contact the ground with the back of your knee.

For 5 seconds, stay in this position.

Return to the starting position slowly and hold for four seconds.

Replace the opposite leg and repeat.

Rep 3 times, changing legs each time.

Buttocks pinch

Buttocks Pinch

Place a small pillow under your abdomen and lie on your stomach on the floor.

Squeeze your buttocks tightly together for 5 seconds.


Rep 3 times more, building up to 6 reps.

Back-lying hip rotation

Back-lying Hip Rotation

Lie on your back on the floor, legs together, knees bent, and feet flat on the ground.

On the right side, gently lower your knees to the floor, keeping them together and your shoulders “glued” to the floor.

To force your knees to the floor, do not strain or utilise muscular effort.

15 seconds of holding

Relax and return to your starting position.

Rep on the other side.

Start with 3 reps on each side and work your way up to 6 reps.

Knee-to-opposite-shoulder stretch

Knee-to-opposite-shoulder stretch

Lie down on your back on the floor.

Flex your feet upward and extend your legs.

Bend your right leg over your left leg, landing on your left knee with your right ankle.

Pull your right leg toward your left shoulder with your hand on your right knee.

Hold the position for 30–45 seconds.

Rep 3–4 times more.

Change your legs.

When to visit a doctor

If you suffer any of the following symptoms, seek medical help right away:

  • After a serious injury or accident, you are in pain.
  • You’re experiencing sudden, intense pain in your lower back or leg, as well as numbness or muscular weakness in the same leg.
  • Your bladder and bowels are out of control.


Cauda equina syndrome

A herniated disc can strain on nerves and cause you to lose control of your bowels or bladder in rare situations. Cauda equina syndrome is the name for this condition.

If left untreated, it can develop numbness or tingle in the groyne area, diminished sexual feeling, and paralysis.

This condition usually takes time to manifest. If the symptoms arise, see your doctor or go to the emergency room very away.

Among the signs of this condition are:

  • Inability to regulate your bladder or intestines, resulting in incontinence or waste retention
  • Leg discomfort in one or both legs
  • One or both of your legs are numb
  • You may have weakness in one or both legs, making it difficult to get up after sitting.
  • Stumbling when attempting to stand
  • A gradual or sudden loss of sensation in your lower body, including the area between your legs, buttocks, inner thighs, heels, and entire foot


When you are diagnosed with sciatica, your doctor will most likely provide you with treatment recommendations. You should keep up with your everyday routine as much as feasible. Lying in bed or avoiding activity can make your disease worse.

The following are some of the most widely recommended at-home treatments:

Cold therapy

You can use ice packs or even a frozen vegetable packet.

During the first few days of symptoms, wrap the ice pack or frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to the affected area for short intervals several times each day. This can aid with oedema and pain relief. Cryotherapy is also an effective therapy for sciatica.

Hot therapy

Hot packs or a heating pad can also be used.

Ice should be applied to the affected area during the first several days to minimise swelling. Switch to heat after 2 or 3 days. Heat can assist relax back muscles, which can spasm as a result of an injury. An infrared sauna is an effective therapy for sciatica If your discomfort persists, try switching between cold and heat therapy.

Did you know that Infrared Sauna therapy relieves Sciatica pain?


Stretching your lower back gently can also help. If available, obtain one-on-one physical therapy or even yoga training from a physical therapist or teacher equipped to deal with your injury to learn how to stretch appropriately.

You can also use the internet to locate free videos to assist you to find the right stretches. Before beginning a stretching practice, make sure you speak with a doctor.

Over-the-counter medication

Pain, irritation, and oedema can also be relieved with over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Excessive aspirin use can lead to consequences such as stomach bleeding and ulcers.

Regular exercise

Your body produces more endorphins the more active you are. Endorphins are natural pain relievers produced by the body. At first, stick to low-impact exercises like swimming and stationary bicycling.

Create an exercise routine that involves aerobics, core stability, and strength training when your discomfort subsides and your endurance improves. A programme that includes these elements can help you avoid future back problems. Always with a physician before beginning a new fitness plan to ensure that it is safe for you.


Physiotherapy exercises can help you strengthen your back muscles and improve your posture.

Prescription medication

Muscle relaxants, pain relievers, oral steroids, and anticonvulsants may be prescribed by a doctor.

Epidural steroid medication

Corticosteroid drugs are injected into the epidural space, a channel that surrounds your spinal cord. These injections are only given on a limited basis due to negative effects.


Surgery may be required if you are experiencing significant discomfort, have lost control of your bowels and bladder, or have acquired paralysis in particular lower extremities muscle groups.

Discectomy, in which a portion of the disc pushing on nerves that make up the sciatic nerve is removed, and microdiscectomy, in which the disc is removed through a small cut while your doctor uses a microscope, are the two most common types of surgery.

Risk Factors

Certain activities or factors can increase your chances of getting sciatica. The following are some of the most common causes of sciatica:

  • Parts of your body are more likely to wear out or break down as you get older.
  • Certain jobs put a lot of strain on your back, especially those that require you to lift large objects, sit for long amounts of time, or twist.
  • Diabetes increases your chances of nerve injury.
  • The outer layer of your spinal discs can break down if you smoke.
  • Obesity has been linked to sciatica in the past.


The actions below can help you avoid sciatica or keep it from recurring:

  • Exercise frequently. Maintaining a healthy back requires strengthening your back muscles and core muscles.
  • Examine your posture. Make sure your chairs provide adequate back support, sit with your feet on the floor, and use your armrests.
  • Keep your movements in mind. By bending at the knees and maintaining your back straight, you can lift large objects safely.