The nerve pain that comprises sciatica can significantly impede your ability to enjoy life, so it’s worth researching and learning as many options as you can to relieve your pain.

The first line of treatment for a sciatica flare-up usually consists of nonsurgical methods such as heat therapy, cold treatment, and pain medications. Watch: Sciatica Treatment Video

Below are 5 tips that you may not have heard before, all of which may contribute to sciatic pain reduction:

1. Reduce inflammation through nutrition

A diet rich in whole grains, natural foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fatty fish, such as salmon, and soluble and insoluble fiber can be effective in reducing inflammation. 1 Pahwa R, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2019 Jun 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.Available from: Curcumin (turmeric), ginger, green tea, and black tea are also potent sources of anti-inflammatory substances 1 Pahwa R, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2019 Jun 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.Available from: that help build up immunity and improve overall health.

See Food for Thought: Diet and Nutrition for a Healthy Back

Following this type of diet will help build the levels of anti-inflammatory substances in your body over time and may reduce the occurrence of sciatica in the long-term.


What to avoid while following an anti-inflammatory diet

When you choose to regularly consume anti-inflammatory foods, it is important to avoid or limit 1 Pahwa R, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2019 Jun 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.Available from: :

  • Inflammation causing foods, such as sugars, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and hydrogenated oils
  • Smoking, which can lower the production of anti-inflammatory molecules and induce inflammation

It is advised to check with your doctor before making extensive dietary changes and to ensure that your diet does not interfere or interact with any current medications.

For more information, see The Ins and Outs of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet on

2. Build specific micronutrients

Supplements help build up micronutrients in your body, which may not be fully obtained through a regular diet. A few examples of important micronutrients include:

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B6
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Fish oil (Omega-3 fatty acids)

These micronutrients help suppress inflammatory mediators and reduce the overall inflammatory processes. Vitamin E, zinc, and selenium act as antioxidants in the body. 1 Pahwa R, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2019 Jun 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.Available from: The B group of vitamins help improve nerve health 2 Martha Savaria Morris, The Role of B Vitamins in Preventing and Treating Cognitive Impairment and Decline, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 3, Issue 6, November 2012, Pages 801–812, , 3 Esperanca, M. (2011). The Wonders of Vitamin B12: Keep Sane and Young (pp. 25, 26). Xlibris US. and reduce sciatica. You can also take curcumin (turmeric) supplements if you don’t consume turmeric as a part of your daily diet.

3. Release your natural pain killers with massage

Massages can help you feel relaxed, release endorphins (your body’s natural hormones that reduce the perception of pain), improve blood circulation, and soothe sore spinal muscles.

  • A deep tissue massage can help restore the spine’s range of motion, improving its flexibility.
  • Manual therapy, a special form of medical massage, can help knead out knots, trigger points, or tension in the muscles. 4 Majchrzycki M, Kocur P, Kotwicki T. Deep Tissue Massage and Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs for Low Back Pain: A Prospective Randomized Trial. The Scientific World Journal. 2014;2014:1-7. doi:10.1155/2014/287597

There are many forms of massage that can be beneficial, such as myofascial release and Shiatsu (a Japanese massage technique that utilizes finger and palm pressure and stretching techniques). 5 Kumar S, Beaton K, Hughes T. The effectiveness of massage therapy for the treatment of nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review of systematic reviews. Int J Gen Med. 2013;6:733–741. Published 2013 Sep 4. doi:10.2147/IJGM.S50243

These massages may be more effective in relieving sciatica pain from poor posture, muscle strain, or fatigued musculature in the lower spine.

Read more about How Massage Can Ease Sciatic Pain

4. Try mind-body techniques

You can use the power of your mind to lower your perception of sciatica pain. Mind-body techniques, which include deep breathing exercises, meditation, guided imagery, and cognitive behavioral therapy, can be helpful in relaxing your muscles and, to an extent, increasing your sense of control over the pain.

You may find that these techniques also help reduce anxiety and depression 6 Burnett-Zeigler I, Schuette S, Victorson D, Wisner KL. Mind-Body Approaches to Treating Mental Health Symptoms Among Disadvantaged Populations: A Comprehensive Review. J Altern Complement Med. 2016;22(2):115–124. doi:10.1089/acm.2015.0038 often associated with chronic pain.

See How to Stop Your Pain with Your Mind

5. Walk in a swimming pool

Water therapy exercises or even simply walking in waist-deep water can help improve nerve and muscle function in the lower body. The natural buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, thermodynamics, hydrodynamic forces, and viscosity of water helps regulate the functioning of nerves and muscles, letting you exercise with less pain. 7 Shi Z, Zhou H, Lu L, et al. Aquatic Exercises in the Treatment of Low Back Pain. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 2018;97(2):116-122. doi:10.1097/phm.0000000000000801

See Water Therapy Exercise Program


Bonus tip: Get more restorative sleep

The quantity and quality of your sleep can directly affect pain and inflammation in your body. When you sleep, several inflammatory substances peak in your bloodstream and stay active throughout the night. When there is poor sleep quality, these inflammatory agents continue to circulate in the body through the day—resulting in pain and fatigue. 8 Heffner KL, France CR, Trost Z, Ng HM, Pigeon WR. Chronic low back pain, sleep disturbance, and interleukin-6. Clin J Pain. 2011;27(1):35–41.

A full night of deep, restorative sleep can help decrease inflammatory pain and make you feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

If your sciatica pain gets worse and/or severely disrupts your daily life, check with your doctor about additional pain relief options, which may include medications, manual manipulation, epidural steroid injections, and more.

See When Sciatica Pain Is a Medical Emergency

Learn more:

Sciatica Treatment

Myths About Sciatica Treatment Options

Dr. Vijay Vad is a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, where he specializes in back pain, knee arthritis, frozen shoulder, and general sports medicine. He previously served as a physician for the professional men’s tennis circuit and on the Westchester Classic of the PGA Tour.

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