Sciatic nerve pain is a tingling or numbing sensation that results in a pain affecting the back, hip and outer side of the leg. The pain is triggered by the compression of a spinal nerve root located in the lower back. It is felt from the lower back area and can radiate down below the knee and can range in severity from resembling a bad leg cramp to an excruciating pain making it difficult to sit or stand.
Every case is different and the pain may aggravate when individuals cough, sneeze or sit. The condition may occur suddenly or develop gradually over time. Some individuals may also experience an accompanying weakness with the pain while others may complain about issues with bending their knee or moving their foot and toes. In most cases nerve pain can be distinguished from muscle pain by the tingling and shooting sensations.
While many people opt for professional treatments such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, or epidural steroid injections to manage pain symptoms, here are some ways to ease sciatic nerve pain at home.
1. Hot or cold compress
Both heat and ice can work well for relieving sciatica pain. Although the source of the sciatic pain is buried deep within, applying a hot or cold pack will not erase the inner inflammation, it can act as a counterirritant. This means that hot or cold packs can give the body other input in the affected area therefore bringing down the pain a notch.
Heat treatments help relax muscles that may be compressing the sciatic nerve. For a hot compress repeatedly apply heat to the affected area every two or three days. You can use a hot pack, a heat lamp or even a heating pad set on the lowest setting. For a homemade hot pack, use a hand towel soaked in hot water and rinsed. Place towel on affected area on the back and relax.
Cold compresses reduce swelling around the compressed nerve and help numb the pain. A cold compress like an ice pack may provide relief if placed on the affected area for up to 20 minutes multiple times a day. An ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables from the freezer can be used. For an even easier cold pack, individuals can have someone massage the sore area with an ice cube in a triangular pattern.
If the use of repeated hot compresses or cold packs do not work separately, try alternating hot and cold packs.