As you likely know by now, the term sciatica refers to pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness that originates in your lower back and travels along your sciatic nerve.

Your sciatic nerve is the single longest nerve in your entire body. Watch: Sciatic Nerve Anatomy Video

No single treatment can help everyone, but your sciatic nerve will likely thank you if you do these 2 things to help ease your sciatica symptoms:

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1. Exercise

Let’s face it—when your sciatica symptoms strike all you want to do is rest. This is typically okay for 24 to 48 hours, but prolonged rest can actually make your sciatica symptoms worse.

See Myths About Sciatica Treatment Options

For example, prolonged rest can lead to deconditioned lower back muscles, which prevents these muscles from properly supporting your spine. In addition, prolonged rest can lead to tight hamstrings—and both of these issues may further aggravate the lower back problem causing your sciatica.

See Back Muscles and Low Back Pain

So it is typically a good idea to develop a gentle exercise program (in tandem with your doctor) to help treat your sciatica. As part of this program, you should normally include stretching, strengthening, and low-impact aerobic exercise tailored to your lower back disorder.

See Sciatica Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief

As an added bonus, exercise encourages blood flow—which can bring healing nutrients to the site of the lower back disorder causing your sciatica.

See Sciatica Causes

2. Apply heat therapy

Heat therapy has numerous benefits for people suffering from sciatica symptoms, including:

  • Dilation of your blood vessels, which encourages healing by increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients.
  • Stretching of your soft tissues—which may help relieve the pressure on your sciatic nerve.
  • Stimulation of the sensory receptors in your skin—so your brain focuses less on your sciatic pain.

See Benefits of Heat Therapy for Lower Back Pain

There are numerous options for heat therapy, including many you can keep in your car or at the office. For example, you can always keep a disposable heat wrap handy, or simply fill a water bottle with warm water from the faucet. If you are at home when your sciatic pain strikes, you can try lying on top of an electric blanket—or give a warm bath a try.

See How to Apply Heat Therapy

The major caution with heat therapy is to avoid extreme heat—as this can lead to serious burns. The temperature you are looking for is best described as warm, not hot.

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Of course, there is no guarantee these two treatments will solve all of your sciatica-related problems. But give them both a try today and you may find significant relief from your sciatica symptoms. In turn, your sciatic nerve will most definitely thank you.

Learn more:

The Truth About Sciatica

When Sciatica Pain Is a Medical Emergency