Self-Help For Sciatica


If you suspect that you have sciatica, it is important to get a medical diagnosis, rather than simply rely on ‘self-help’.  This is due to the fact that the sciatica may be caused by a secondary back condition that also needs to be treated.  If you rely on self-help alone, then the secondary back condition will not be treated and the sciatica will continue.

However, if you have been diagnosed with sciatica, then there are some recognised self-help techniques to help you manage the pain effectively.

Keep Active!

If your healthcare professional has advised you to stay active, then you may have thought that they have scant regard for just how painful your condition is, but in fact keeping active is one of the best ways to manage sciatica.  This can be difficult, because the condition is painful and the instinct is to rest and not make the condition any worse.  But patients need to bear in mind that our bodies were designed for hunting, gathering and being very active, so prolonged rest will not do the spine any favours. 

You should not participate in high impact sports, so lay off anything that is very physical, such as jogging, football and rugby, but instead concentrate on walking, swimming and even gently stretching your body, to loosen up the spine.

If you have seen a physiotherapist then you should continue the exercises that they have prescribed for you, even if you do not experience instant results; the exercises do work, but they can take time.

Compression Packs

Using either very hot or very cold compression packs can help.  Although ‘hot or cold packs’ are available from pharmacies, it is also possible to make your own using either frozen peas or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel.  Some people also find that it is best to use a hot compress and then a cold one, to get the most relief.

Improve Your Posture

The lower back needs to be properly supported and if your posture is not good, then the lower back will continue to be painful and the ‘trapping’ of the sciatic nerve can be exacerbated.  So you need to make sure that when you are at work or are sitting at a PC or driving, that you used some kind of lumbar support or cushion.

Keep Moving!

Keep moving is slightly different from keep active.  The body, as mentioned above was designed to be active and to keep moving, so if you sit for long periods of time, then the spine is compressed.  So you need to get up and walk about every few minutes, simply to make sure that the spine is loosened up.  Remember that keep moving and keeping active are indeed different and that you need to do BOTH not just one or the other!

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