There is no doubt that the pain of sciatica is, at times, unbearable. This intense pain causes many people to simply remain on the sofa.
The causes of sciatica are quite diverse, with everything from an injury, a ruptured disc, or even spinal stenosis.
The good news here is that you don’t have to live with sciatica pain.
If you are suffering from sciatica pain and are looking for instant relief, you’ve come to the right place.
What is the Most Effective Pain Relief for Sciatica?
This will depend on the root of the problem causing the sciatica pain, but generally speaking, stretching is the most effective method for finding instant pain relief.
If you haven’t done any stretching or exercise in general due to sciatica, you should warm up the area using low-level heat to relax the muscles.
A warm bath or shower is a good start. You might also try the adhesive heat pads and wraps available in most drug stores or online. These provide low-level heat for 8 hours, which will also help to relieve pain as well as loosen tight muscles.
Can Stretching Make Sciatica Worse?
One of the first pieces of advice sciatica patients are given is to stretch the hamstrings and the piriformis to lengthen the muscles and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
This isn’t always the best advice, however, since some stretches don’t work for sciatica and a few can actually be harmful.
Pain is a sign that something is wrong, but it can also be a bit tricky to diagnose. Pain in the hip or buttocks that shoot down the leg is a common sign of sciatica, but it is also a sign of a herniated disc.
Stretching and doing exercise with a herniated disc is a sure-fire way to put more pressure on the disc and cause it to become worse or for the other discs in the spine to suffer damage.
5 Easy Stretches for Instant Relief from Sciatica Pain
Just a reminder that you should never stretch too hard or too far, even if your muscles are warm. You should only feel a slight pull in the area. That is enough to get the job done.
Stop doing any stretch if you feel a sharp pain in your back or if you feel any type of intense pain.
Stretch #1- Sitting Spinal Stretch
When the sciatica pain is due to compression of the spine, this is an excellent stretch to create space within the spine and put less pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Sit on the floor with your legs extended directly in front of you. Bend the left knee and put the left foot on the floor on the outside of the right knee.
Place your right elbow on the outside of the left knee to help you gently twist your body to the left.
Hold this for 30 seconds, then relax for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times, then do the same with the opposite side.
Stretch #2- Chair Hamstring Stretch
Stretching the hamstrings (the rear of the thigh) is another great way to ease the pain of sciatica.
Place your left foot on a chair, ottoman, or the sofa. Be sure your foot is at or below the hip level. Flex your foot so the toes and leg are straight. Don’t overextend the knee.
Bend at the waist and try to grab your ankle. Don’t push so far that you feel pain. A gentle pulling sensation is enough. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Stretch #3- Forward Pigeon Pose
This stretch might sound awkward, but the release of tight muscles feels so good!
Sit on the floor. Stretch one leg out behind you, with the top of your foot on the ground. Fold the other leg in front of you, as if you were going to sit cross leg.
Sit up straight and keep your hands on the floor for balance. Take a deep breath and while you exhale, lean the upper body forward, over the bent leg. It’s OK to support your weight using your hands.
Hold for a count of 10, then return to start and switch legs.
Stretch #4- Reclining Pigeon Pose
This is a commonly used yoga pose that is used to help all kinds of back problems, including stopping sciatica pain.
Lie on a mat on the floor, knees bent. Bring the left leg up so the left ankle is resting on the right knee.
Put your hands behind your right thigh and very gently, bring your right knee up towards your face. Don’t lift your head or shoulders off the floor, just move the left very slowly and gently.
Hold for a count of 5, then do the same with the opposite leg.
Stretch #5- Sitting Pigeon Pose
This one feels so good and it is a common yoga pose to stop hip and back pain.
Sit in a chair, with your butt near the edge of the seat. Cross your right leg and place the right ankle on the left knee.
Put your arms down at your sides and gently bend at the waist. You will really feel this one in the behind and the lower back. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds then repeat with the other leg.
Do this one every morning and evening for best results.
If you are unsure about how to perform these stretches or if you feel intense pain, consult with your chiropractor before continuing.
Is Walking Good for Sciatic Nerve Pain?
In many cases, simple walking can be a surprisingly effective approach for stopping sciatic pain.
Regular walking not only reduces inflammation and causes the body to release pain-fighting endorphins, but if you have poor posture, it can cause your sciatica pain to flare up.
Walking and simple stretching exercises have been shown to get better results than surgery!
To get the most out of your walking session, shorten your stride to prevent the compression of lumbar discs, which will only cause your sciatica nerve to become more irritated.
Keep in mind that your purpose in walking is to relieve sciatica pain, not to win a race or even to lose weight, so slow down and focus on taking shorter steps.
If walking is still too painful, try doing it in a pool or try stretching before you head out for your walk. If you are still having issues with walking, see your local chiropractor.
Can a Chiropractor Help with Sciatica?
When you think you’ve done everything, but you can’t get lasting relief from sciatica pain, it’s time to visit a chiropractor.
Chiropractic is based on the idea that a restricted spinal movement causes pain and problems throughout the body. Your chiropractor helps the body by removing these restrictions, which allows the body to naturally heal itself, and reduce or eliminate pain.
After a few gentle adjustments to the spine, your chiropractor may also use other treatments to help stop sciatica pain, including, but not limited to:
- Ice or cold therapy
- Heat therapy
- Chiropractic massage
By the way, if you have insurance, you don’t need a referral to see a chiropractor.
How Do I Get My Sciatic Nerve to Stop Hurting?
If you’ve been doing stretching exercises for several weeks and it hasn’t helped the pain, or if other home remedies such as heat or ice therapy haven’t been successful, you should first have the root cause diagnosed.
You can do this with a visit to your chiropractor. A visit to a chiropractor is one of the best ways to not only discover the root cause of your sciatica pain but to find relief from sciatica pain.
After an examination and possibly some x-rays, your chiropractor will discuss with your what is causing irritation to the sciatica nerve and what plan of action he suggests will get you the fastest pain relief.
In addition to treatments and adjustments at the office, your chiropractor might suggest a stretching and exercise plan for you to begin at home to further reduce sciatica pain and to prevent it from returning.
Foam rollers, yoga, core strengthening exercises, and other exercises can not only stop sciatica pain, but it can prevent it from creating a sequel in your life.
If you are experiencing sciatica pain, or if stretching exercises haven’t been successful, why not call us today for an appointment? If you prefer, you can make an appointment online.
At Better Health Chiropractic and Physical Rehab, we understand how much sciatica hurts! We want to help stop that pain today.
Call today for an appointment so you can put sciatica pain to rest once and for all!
About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.