You know the experience all too well—your sciatica symptoms, like searing pain in your leg or numbness in your foot, flare-up at work with no warning. To help you find relief so that you can continue with your busy day, here are a few simple sciatica first-aid options:
Sciatica is not a medical condition, but rather a symptom of an underlying medical disorder.
See What You Need to Know About Sciatica
Try cold therapy
Amongst other benefits, cold therapy can reduce your inflammation and numb sore tissue—which in turn can relieve pain in your sciatic nerve. Here are a few cold therapy tips:
- Regardless of whether you’re using ice or a gel pack, make sure to wrap it in a towel to avoid ice burns.
- Cold therapy typically should be applied for no longer than 20 minutes, but it can be applied 8-10 times in a 24 hour period.
- Avoid cold therapy if you have rheumatoid arthritis or Raynaud’s Syndrome.
Try heat therapy
Heat therapy stimulates the sensory receptors in your skin, which means that heat therapy can inhibit the transmission of pain signals to your brain.
There are many great options for the application of heat therapy, including:
- Hot water bottles
- Electric blankets
- Heated gel packs
- Warm baths
While some of these options may be easily transportable, it’s a smart idea to keep a disposable heat wrap on hand in your car or at the office. Heat wraps deliver continuous, low-level heat over several hours—and they can be easily hidden under your shirt.
Try NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
In part, your sciatic pain is caused by the inflammation of your sciatic nerve. So then, it makes sense that you may be able to find quick relief from your sciatic pain by way of NSAID’s.
Each NSAID has its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks, so it is a smart idea to discuss any medications you plan on taking with a doctor or pharmacist.
NSAID options include:
- Ibuprofen, such as Advil, Nuprin, Motrin
- Naproxen, such as Naprosyn, Aleve
- COX-2 inhibitors, such as Celebrex
See Types of NSAIDs
You may also be able to reduce your sciatic nerve inflammation with aspirin—but NSAID’s are often preferred because they have fewer gastrointestinal side effects.
If your sciatic pain is severe, these first-aid tips may help provide temporary relief—but you will likely need a personalized treatment plan to manage your pain and prevent any future flare-ups.