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What is the Fastest Cure for Sciatic Pain?

By Amanda Barnhart
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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Finding a fast cure for sciatic pain can help relieve the significant discomfort associated with the condition and get patients back on their feet. While no method of pain relief is instant, patients who suffer from sciatica can significantly reduce their pain levels by treating the pain in several ways at once. Medications, exercises, and ice and heat therapy are the best ways to relieve sciatica pain.

Over-the-counter medications can help relieve swelling and pain from sciatica. Acetaminophen helps reduce pain, while aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen help eliminate swelling and inflammation around the nerve that leads to irritation. Prescription-strength pain killers are reserved for people who suffer from severe pain that inhibits their daily activities. Many prescription pain killers are addictive, so they are usually only used for short periods.

Topical medications that contain salicylates work similar to oral aspirin pills, and rubbing the cream into the lower back, hip, and leg can help relieve nerve pain. Other topical pain killers include counter-irritant creams and gels that provide a fast cure for sciatic pain in mild cases. These creams create a sensation of warmth or cold that can temporarily soothe the area.

Though sciatica pain may make patients feel like staying in bed, exercising can help relieve pain. Gentle movement and stretching can help relieve nerve pain and reduce the severity of future pain. Stretching the hamstring muscles along the backs of the thighs helps as well. Strengthening the abdominal muscles by doing crunches and other stomach exercises helps provide support for the lower back, which can ease pain.

Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as swimming, walking, or bicycling, helps strengthen the entire body and improves posture. Keeping the shoulders, spine, and hips in alignment when standing, sitting, and exercising can help prevent muscle spasms around the nerve. Taking frequent breaks and changing positions often when standing or sitting for long periods of time can also help relieve lower back pain by preventing compression on the same area of the nerve.

Ice and heat can help relieve sciatic pain and inflammation as well. Icing the lower back, hip, leg, or any area prone to sciatic pain for 20 minutes several times a day for the first few days after the pain starts can help numb the area and reduce swelling. After several days of ice therapy, warming the area with a heating pad or hot water bottle for 20 to 30 minutes can help relax tense muscles and improve blood flow to the area, which promotes healing.

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Discussion Comments
By anon952016 — On May 19, 2014

I actually was suffering not long ago with a tight piriformis which caused major sciatica issues. My biggest issue was standing from a sitting position without excruciating pain, or being able to fully extend my right leg flat out in front of me when seated.

My treatment regimen was as follows: First: Rest as much as possible in order to avoid re-straining the injury. Second – Cold therapy will reduce the noticeable swelling, the sometimes unnoticeable inflammation, and will relieve the associated pain. Third – Promote blood flow, because the more we promote blood flow, the faster we will heal. I used some at home therapies by King Brand to help with the cold therapy and stimulating my bloodflow in the area. My physiotherapist was amazed at how quickly my condition improved since typically, sessions are usually three times per week for 6 weeks or more. It was probably more due to the fact that I didn't have to wait for my physio appointments in order to keep my bloodflow stimulated. I was able to continue, not only my stretching exercises, but was also able to use my products at home in between sessions.

When first starting physio, I could not lift my right leg to even a 45 degree angle (while laying flat on my back). Within the 5 weeks (only 8 physio treatments) my leg could be extended way past a 90 degree angle. I now have full range of motion and absolutely no pain whatsoever.

By DoctorY — On Aug 26, 2012

First, your back needs a period of rest. A short period of bed rest is in order.

Second, get some pain relief with an over-the-counter medication.

Third, place some ice on the areas that hurt.

Fourth, after the bed rest and pain medicine have begun to give you some pain relief, and as soon as you notice any improvement, get moving.

Fifth, address muscle spasms with rest, massage, and/or heat.

Sixth, give your body a chance to heal. It takes two to 12 weeks.

Seventh, gradually resume normal activities.

Eighth, gradually strengthen your back. Some exercises will make it better; some will make it worse. Find out which are which. Don't start them, yet. You have a couple weeks to figure out the difference.

Ninth, eventually increase flexibility once the pain has resolved. Don’t overdo it.

By DylanB — On Aug 08, 2012

My aunt tried several kinds of sciatica nerve pain treatment, but all failed her. After three months of living with the pain, she decided to have surgery.

The surgeon removed part of a disc in her spine that was pinching the nerve. Any time you have spine surgery, there are risks, but I think since the part he removed was already herniated, the risks weren't quite as great.

She feels much better now. Before, she felt so frustrated and hopeless, because nothing was working for her. She is glad that she had the surgery.

By Kristee — On Aug 07, 2012

@feasting – Wow, I have had sciatic nerve pain before, but never has it been that intense. Mine has been annoying but not debilitating. I have been able to remain at work while experiencing it.

I have found that topical creams designed for treating arthritis are very helpful when it comes to sciatic nerve pain relief. My mother had some of this cream for her arthritis, so I tried it out on my back and leg, and I felt relief almost immediately.

The one thing that put me off a little was the smell of the cream, though. It has a very strong peppermint aroma, and when I use it, I smell like peppermint until I shower.

By feasting — On Aug 07, 2012

I have never had sciatic back pain, but my sister has, and hers was severe. She said that she felt a shooting pain leading from her lower back all the way through her leg and down to her toes.

Her pain was so intense that she had to leave work for a few days. She got some prescription pain killers from her doctor that helped, but as soon as they would wear off, the pain would return.

Her doctor told her about some exercises that would help lessen the pain, but she had to wait until it subsided to attempt them. She also went to a chiropractor, and this helped a little, but the exercises have been the most beneficial.

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