What to do for sciatic nerve pain so you can get back to normal—fast

what to do for sciatic nerve pain

From numbness and tingling, to an ache that goes down the back of the leg -sciatic nerve pain can ruin your day and maybe even cause you to lose sleep. It can be as mild as an annoying discomfort or so severe the pain makes even simple activities unbearable.

Sudden movements (even coughing or sneezing) and sitting for hours at a time can make the pain even worse.  

Common questions about sciatic nerve pain

If you want to know what to do for sciatic nerve pain, read our Q&A to find answers…and get relief.

Q: Will my sciatic nerve pain go away? If so, how long will it take?

A: For many people, sciatic nerve pain usually goes away in 6-8 weeks. Sciatica may be eliminated with a simple exercise program but at times requires specific, spinal mobilizations or hands-on treatment to relieve the symptoms. Surgery is only needed in rare cases when a compressed nerve causes extreme pain or muscle weakness that does not improve with other treatment.

Q: Is my disc causing my sciatic nerve pain?

A: It could be. However, there are many other causes of sciatica. Pressure along any point of the sciatic nerve can produce sciatica. This pressure can be caused by bone spurs, sitting for long periods of time, the piriformis muscle (located in the buttocks) and even hip arthritis. Walking abnormally can also produce sciatica because of the extra strain on your back and hip.

What causes sciatica flare ups?

There are multiple nerves that branch off from your spine in your lower back. The sciatic nerve comes from those branches.  When a disc bulges or bone spurs grow, this puts pressure on your nerves. The pressure or inflammation around the nerve can cause sciatica. This is also similar to what can cause a pinched nerve in your shoulder or neck. (Read our blog post on pinched nerves in your shoulder or neck for more info).

Other causes and risk factors of sciatica include:

  • A narrowing of the spinal canal (usually seen as people age)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pregnancy or weight gain
  • Sitting for long periods at a time
  • Repeated bending, twisting or heavy lifting
  • Prior back injuries
  • A history of sciatica

Our physical therapists can help determine what’s causing your sciatic nerve pain. Through a series of tests on your back, pelvis, and hip, along with evaluating the tension and sensitivity of the nerve, we can determine areas your nerve may be irritated or compressed.

Based on our findings, we then create a personalized, detailed treatment plan for you. Depending on your specific needs, this plan could include special hands-on treatment as well as daily exercises for you to complete at home.

One common exercise we may recommend is to work on your hip flexibility. Besides getting your hips and legs more limber, you’ll also become aware of which positions put stress on your back and hips that contribute to sciatica. Give us a call today to set up an appointment to learn more. 

How do I get my sciatic nerve to stop hurting?

At this point, you just want relief! You may have tried all sorts of at-home exercises. And while at-home stretches are important, they may not be enough to relieve the irritation around your sciatic nerve. Without professional treatment, you may even increase the pain by further irritating your sciatic nerve (and that’s the last thing you want!).

To get you on the fastest path back to normal, our physical therapists first diagnose the underlying problem. After a detailed assessment, they design a recovery program personalized to your situation. Plus, they can tell you how to help prevent future injuries and pain to get you on the road to long-term relief.

Get back to normal

You don’t have to live with pain! To help you determine what to do for sciatic nerve pain, contact us today for a full appointment or free phone consultation.