Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor specialist Home Care exercises pain warning signs Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

Sciatic Nerve Home Care

Home care for sciatica includes:

  • Avoid activities that cause pain.
  • Apply a cold compress:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Apply warm compresses:
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, after a few days.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Rest your back:
    • Avoid heavy lifting.
    • Avoid bedrest.
    • Return to walking as soon as possible.
  • After the pain resolves, start:
    • Back stretching exercises
    • Back range of motion exercises
    • Back strengthening exercises.
  • Maintain good posture.
  • Lift with your legs.
  • Weight loss if you are overweight
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Sciatic Nerve Exercises

Performing these daily exercises can reduce pain:

  • Abdominal crunch:
    • Lie flat on your back with your knees drawn up to 90 degrees and your feet planted on the floor.
    • Place your hands behind your head and begin by slowly raising your shoulders 1" off the floor.
    • Then return to the resting position.
    • Focus on flexing the abdominal muscles when you raise your head and shoulders.
    • Do not use your arms to lift your head and bend your neck.
    • You must use your abdominal muscles to perform the exercise.
  • Shoulder shrugs:
    • Rotate shoulders upward and backward.
  • Lower neck and upper back stretch:
    • Stand up; place your hands together in front of you.
    • Bend your neck and upper back forward.
    • Reach your hands toward the floor.
  • Seated low-back stretch:
    • Sit on a chair with both feet planted squarely on the floor.
    • Bend down and place your head between your knees.
    • Touch your fingertips on the floor between your feet.

Sciatic Nerve Pain

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults include:

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.





NSAID Precautions

Sciatic Nerve Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have sciatica and any of the following:

Continue to Sciatic Nerve Outlook

Last Updated: Jan 4, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Sciatic Nerve References
  1. Barrett PH, Beck A, Schmid K, Fireman B, Brown JB. Treatment decisions about lumbar herniated disk in a shared decision-making program. Jt Comm J Qual Improv. 2002 May;28(5):211-9. [12053454]
  2. Humphreys SC, Eck JC. Clinical evaluation and treatment options for herniated lumbar disc. Am Fam Physician. 1999 Feb 1;59(3):575-82, 587-8. [10029785]
  3. Ito T, Takano Y, Yuasa N. Types of lumbar herniated disc and clinical course. Spine. 2001 Mar 15;26(6):648-51. [11246377]
  4. Spencer DL. The anatomical basis of sciatica secondary to herniated lumbar disc: a review. Neurol Res. 1999;21 Suppl 1:S33-6. [10214569]
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