How to Treat Sciatica: 5 Effective Home Exercises
Many patients visit us in tears, desperate for relief for persistent sciatic pain. Sciatica often causes unbearable discomfort in the lower back, butt, legs and feet. Some patients experience a constant burning sensation, while others have tingling, loss of motion or numbness. You may even experience all of these symptoms at once.
Fortunately, our team has extensive experience treating sciatica. Learn how we can help, plus what you can do at home for relief from sciatic pain. We’ve got your back — literally.
Sciatica Treatment Options
Treating sciatic pain can be difficult, especially if you rely on conventional methods. Patients often discover our office after trying everything from prescription medications and over-the-counter balms to essential oils and personal massaging devices. We understand your commitment toward getting better, which is why we offer numerous treatment options for sciatic pain.
We can’t address your sciatic pain without learning more about the cause. That way, we can treat the root of your pain rather than simply tackling the symptoms.
Here are some digital imaging tests we may request or perform:
- CT scan
Our team may also order blood work or nerve conduction tests for sciatic pain. This medical information allows us to pinpoint the condition triggering your sciatica. Your results help us determine whether you may have Piriformis syndrome, spinal stenosis, a herniated disc or another underlying condition.
Some sciatica patients react well to physical therapy. During physical therapy, our skilled staff gently stretches your body on a table or other medical equipment, such as an exercise ball. This helps relieve pressure from nerve compression, inflammation or tight muscles.
Spinal issues often cause sciatic pain, so chiropractic adjustments are a popular remedy. When your spine is out of whack, discs may press against the sciatic nerve or nearby muscles. Licensed chiropractors can carefully shift these discs back where they belong via spinal manipulation and other techniques.
Acupuncture therapy generally isn’t a standalone remedy for sciatica, but it can be an effective complement to other treatments. Medical practitioners have been using acupuncture for more than 2,500 years. The therapy involves placing thin needles on pressure points, which then activate the healing properties of your central nervous system. You may feel better physically as well as mentally after an acupuncture session.
Spinal decompression is the go-to option for patients who don’t want back surgery. You’re carefully strapped onto the therapeutic table, which then stretches your lower back. Many patients find this process relaxing, and some even fall asleep! Each session takes approximately 45 minutes, and you may feel better after just one or two appointments.
Therapeutic injections, such as a spinal epidural injection, distribute steroids throughout your sciatic region. These steroids jumpstart your body’s natural healing process, reducing pain and inflammation over time.
5 Effective Home Exercises for Sciatica
It can be tempting to curl up in a ball and avoid physical activity, but give movement a chance. When performed correctly, these exercises may provide relief from sciatica.
1. The Tennis Ball Trick
You can do the tennis ball trick at home or on the go, and there’s no racket required. Some people simply sit on the ball for relief, while others roll around on it for a DIY massage.
If you’re going the massage route, start by placing the tennis ball under your gluteal muscle (the large muscle found in each butt cheek) where pain occurs. Lift up the leg on the same side as the tennis ball, and then slowly roll back and forth over the ball. You should notice some relief right away if this exercise is a good fit for your condition.
Discontinue the tennis ball massage if your pain gets worse.
2) Back Extensions
This exercise looks like you’re about to do a push-up.
Start by lying on your stomach, then rest on your forearms. Keep your elbows bent at each side and your neck straight while you look at the floor.
Arch your back by pushing down on the floor with your hands, and keep your hips on the floor. When done correctly, you will feel a slight pull in your stomach muscles. Inhale and hold this position for approximately 5 to 10 seconds, then return to your starting point.
Repeat this exercise 10 times.
3) Stomach Vacuum
If you struggle with back extensions, try the stomach vacuum instead.
Lie on your back and bend your knees. Keep your feet on the floor (near your butt).
Place your palms on your hips, and then extend your fingers. Suck in your abs, pulling your belly button closer to your spine.
Press your fingers in the muscles near your hip bones so you can feel if they are getting tighter.
Hold each pose for approximately 5 seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
4) Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
The reclined hand-to-big-toe pose gently stretches your hamstrings, which may provide relief from sciatic pain.
Lie on your back and stretch out your legs. Bend your right knee, and then hug your leg against your chest.
Wrap a yoga strap around the bottom of your foot, holding the strap securely with each hand. Pull your leg toward the ceiling with the strap, keeping your leg as straight as possible.
Flex your foot as you stretch, but try not to move your hips too much. Keep your butt flat against the floor. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds, and then release and repeat with your other leg.
5) Aquatic Leg Raises
Head to the pool for this pain-relieving exercise.
Stand in water that goes up to your waist or higher with your back facing the side of the pool. Grab the edge of the pool for support.
Pull one leg in front of your body. Extend your leg fully, and then gently flex your knee at a 90-degree angle.
Bring your leg back down and repeat. Do this multiple times with each leg. You can twist a water noodle around your foot if you want an extra challenge.
Always consult with a doctor before starting or changing your fitness plan, even when you’re doing exercise for therapeutic purposes.
Alleviate Sciatic Pain with Help from NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine
Sciatica can change your life, and not for the better. Left untreated, this painful condition can make you absolutely miserable. You may find it difficult to exercise, drive, perform household chores or even sleep.
At NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine, we understand how physical pain can impact your quality of life. Reach out today so we can tackle your sciatic pain, whether you’ve got severe thigh pain or feet that tingle nonstop.