Sciatica is often caused by sciatic nerve damage or compression. It causes severe back pain that radiates to the buttock and hip. Numbness and tingling sensations are also common. In severe cases of sciatic nerve damage, especially those caused by herniated discs, surgery may be recommended to remove the portion of the disc that is pressing on the sciatic nerve.
If you have sciatic nerve damage, your primary care physician may refer you to a back pain management facility to consult with a specialist who may suggest the following non-invasive treatment options instead of surgery.
One of the most effective treatments for back pain caused by sciatic nerve damage is bed rest because it gives the damaged nerve a chance to heal. Although resting often results in complete resolution of symptoms, it can take up to a few weeks before you notice a significant improvement.
After you start feeling better, the back pain management physician may recommend mild stretching exercises while still on bed rest. Stretching exercises, such as leaning forward movements, help improve core strength, promote blood flow to the damaged sciatic nerve, and decrease inflammation. Before starting your stretching exercises, your back pain management physician will show you how to do them correctly and will remind you to stop stretching if your pain level escalates.
Ice and Heat Alternating Treatments
As soon as you develop symptoms of sciatic nerve damage, your doctor may recommend ice packs. Ice helps numb sciatic nerve pain, decreases inflammation, and helps promote circulation to the damaged nerve.
For a makeshift ice pack, simply use a pack of frozen peas or corn. After a few days of ice therapy, your back pain physician will advise you to switch to heat treatments. Applying warm compresses or a heating pad to the affected area helps soothes sciatic nerve pain and may help eliminate associated numbness and tingling sensations.
Never put ice directly on your skin and always keep your heating pad set to the lowest setting. Also, turn your heating pad off before going to sleep. If you prefer, you can visit a back pain management facility, where the staff will ice your back and initiate heat treatments with a diathermy machine.
If you are suffering from sciatic nerve pain, make an appointment with your physician. If needed, you will be referred to a back specialist for further evaluation and treatment. While non-invasive treatments are often effective, if they fail to bring relief, you may need to consider surgery.