Open Accessibility Menu

Tips for Managing Sciatica Pain

Like far-sightedness and slowing metabolisms, sciatica is a common problem faced by many people as they approach middle age. Whether manifesting in the thigh, leg, or foot, sciatica pain can be debilitating, often causing significant disruption to everyday activities. While you may want to stay in bed and rest in an attempt to relieve your pain, taking action with the help of a pain specialist is the best way to combat sciatica. There are numerous non-surgical strategies to manage it and find relief.

Understanding the Sciatic Nerve

The sciatic nerve, the longest and widest nerve in your body, runs from your lower back through your buttocks and down each leg. When the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed, usually due to a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, the infamous "Sciatic nerve pain" arises. These can include:

  • Sharp, burning pain radiating down the back of your leg
  • Numbness or tingling in the buttocks, leg, or foot
  • Weakness in the affected leg
  • Difficulty walking or standing

Non-Surgical Sciatica Pain Relief

While sciatica can be scary, the good news is that most cases improve with non-surgical treatment. Research shows that 90-95 percent of sciatica patients can find relief with non-surgical treatments. Let’s explore some tips on how to best manage your sciatica pain.


Your body is made to move, and doing so could be one of the best solutions for your sciatica pain. When sciatica flares up, you may find that taking a gentle walk while making shortened strides provides relief. Regular walking can improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

Start with short walks and gradually increase duration and intensity as tolerated. Try not to tense up if it’s painful, but take deep breaths and frequent breaks to monitor your posture. When you walk, land mid-foot, not on your toes, and slow down; going at a slower pace allows you to think through your steps and not overdo them.

Stretching & Posing

Warming up your muscles through stretches and specific yoga poses has the ability to ease your sciatica pain symptoms if done correctly and consistently.

Try out these yoga poses and stretches to find what works for you:

  • Reclining pigeon: Doing Pigeon Pose on your back helps support your lower back and puts less pressure on your hips. Reclined Pigeon Pose stretches your glutes, hips, and the piriformis muscle.
  • Forward pigeon: Pigeon pose works explicitly as a hip opener and forward bend, stretching your thighs, groin, back, piriformis, and psoas.
  • Cobra: This soothing pose strengthens and stretches your spine, promoting circulation and flexibility.
  • Downward-facing dog: This forward bend helps align your body, relieving pain and tightness. Downward-Facing Dog promotes strength in your entire body while helping to correct imbalances.
  • Lying knee-to-chest stretch: This stretch focuses on the hip flexors, piriformis, and hamstrings, muscles that can tighten and contribute to sciatic nerve compression. By lengthening and loosening these muscles, the stretch indirectly reduces pressure on the nerve, leading to sciatic nerve pain relief.
  • Sitting spinal stretch: Sciatica pain is triggered when vertebrae in the spine compress. This stretch helps create space in the spine to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Standing hamstring stretch: This stretch can help ease pain and tightness in the hamstring caused by sciatica.
  • Sciatic nerve gliding/flossing: Nerve gliding, also called nerve flossing or stretching, is an exercise technique used in physical therapy that stretches nerves to improve nerve movement and reduce pain.

Have patience with yourself and work slowly to master these sciatica stretches and poses. If you’re working with a physical therapist, they will help you devise a plan of action to get you moving and feeling better.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can design a personalized exercise program to strengthen core muscles, improve posture, and address specific weaknesses contributing to sciatica. A strong core is your body's fortress wall, protecting your spinal cord and reducing pressure on the sciatic nerve. A physical therapist will guide you through targeted exercises to strengthen your core muscles, improving stability and preventing future flare-ups.

Epidural Injections

In some instances, patients may qualify for an epidural injection to find relief for their herniated disc pain. These minimally invasive injections are incredibly accurate, very effective, and have been safely used for well over 100 years to treat spinal pain. Using advanced X-ray equipment called a fluoroscope, our affiliate physicians can see and deliver strong anti-inflammatory medication directly to the inflamed disc and irritated nerves.

Additional Tips for Managing Sciatica Pain

  • Heat & ice: Apply heat for muscle relaxation and ice for inflammation, but never directly on the skin.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications: OTCs can help with pain and inflammation. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).
  • Maintain good posture: Practice proper posture while sitting, standing, and sleeping to avoid further irritating the nerve.
  • Listen to your body: Rest when needed, but avoid prolonged inactivity, which can worsen stiffness.
  • Prioritize sleep: A well-rested body heals better and copes with pain more effectively.
  • Manage stress: Chronic stress can exacerbate pain. Practice relaxation techniques and find healthy outlets for stress management.
  • Advocate for yourself: Don't hesitate to ask questions and express your concerns to your healthcare team. Be an active participant in your treatment plan.

Living with Sciatica

Remember, managing sciatica is a marathon, not a sprint. Denying or fighting it only fuels frustration. Instead, acknowledge its presence and learn to coexist. Become aware of your triggers and identify activities, postures, or situations that worsen your pain. Taking these steps empowers you to make informed choices and avoid flare-ups. By incorporating these tips and working with your healthcare team, you can find sciatica pain relief and regain control of your life.

How Long Does Sciatica Pain Last

On average, most cases of sciatic nerve pain resolve within 4-6 weeks. Chronic sciatica, lasting longer than 6 weeks and showing no improvement, requires further evaluation and might involve additional treatment strategies.

When to See a Specialist for Treating Sciatica Pain

If you’re living with sciatica pain, it is important to find a specialist to help diagnose your condition so they may get you the treatment you need. If your pain is severe, worsens with home remedies, or lasts more than a few weeks, consult your primary care doctor or an NSPC-affiliated specialist. They can diagnose the underlying cause, recommend more targeted treatment options, and determine if surgery is necessary in rare cases.

Our affiliated physicians are here to listen to your concerns and get you back to living pain-free as soon as possible! Contact us to book your first consultation today.

Take a Moment to Request Your Appointment Now

Just take a few seconds to fill out this form, and send your request so that our team can get you scheduled.

Personal Information
  • * Indicates Required Field
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your name.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
    Please enter your phone number.
    You entered an invalid number.
  • This isn't a valid email address.
    Please enter your email address.
  • Please make a selection.
    Please make a selection.